Unearthing The Garbage: Santa Paws

REVIEW: Survive the Night


 Unlike some more recent Bruce Willis movies, such as Survive the Game,Out of Death and Fortress: Sniper's Eye (which didn't have a single sniper in the entire movie), Survive the Night is a title that actually is relevant to the plot.  Two baddies, Jamie (Shea Buckner) and his brother Matthias (Tyler Jon Olson) are on the run.  An impulse robbery gone wrong ends with Matthias getting shot in the leg.  With the total need to survive the night, Jamie needs to find a doctor.

Thankfully, he sees Dr Rich Something or Other (Chad Michael Murray) leave a clinic, and follows him home.  He is living at his father's (Bruce Willis) farm with his wife Jan (Lydia Hull) and daughter Riley (Riley Wolfe Rach).  Once everyone is in bed, the evil brothers enter the house, hold everyone hostage, and force Dr Rich to perform surgery on Matthias so that he's able to survive the night.

This is actually not a bad movie at all, though I'm unable to figure if it's because it is decently made or if it's just a lot better than other recent Bruce Willis films.  What is impressive is that the characters have personalities and are a bit complex, at least when we put them up against others such as Out of Death or Survive the Game.  I felt I understood who Rich was, and even the dastardly criminals had a sense of depth.

The story wasn't the most absurd bit of writing in the world, and the directing by Matt Eskandari is solid.  I never know what I'm getting into with these Bruce Willis movies, and Survive the Night was really a delightful surprise.

Now, that doesn't mean that this film doesn't contain some of the issues of the other films.  Is Bruce Willis a cop who is mostly sitting down in the movie?  Yep.  Are there moments of stupidity like someone trying to head fake bullets?  Yep.  Are characters absolutely stupid just to push the plot forward?  If you consider having your ankle hand cuffed to a table leg (which could easily be lifted up to release the metallic grasp) and unable to escape stupid, then yep.

When watching the movie, I was curious about how this concept would stretch over the run time.  The setting is closed, people are bound to chairs (kind of), and obviously there needs to be a flow to keep it from being static.  Well, everyone manages to escape.  Obviously not a single one of them actually leaves the farm and gets help, and they all hide in either the barn or the shed which are quite close to the house.  Obviously they just sit there and wait to be found.  And, obviously when Willis' character drives off and is pursued by Jamie in a big car chase, nobody leaves the barn.  And when they meet up they obviously stand in plain site just talking about how they are going to get through this mess before getting captured… yet again.

A number of the people in this film are regulars in other Willis films like Eskandari who has worked with him several times. Chad Michael is a staple in films like the aforementioned Fortress: Sniper's Eye and Survive the Game, and his performance here is dramatically better.

Survive the Night is far from bad, but is sadly still isn't very good.  A lot of the problems found in other Willis movies are absent here, but is is still flawed enough to make it hard to recommend.  If I was pushed to get someone to watch a Bruce Willis movie, it would most likely be either Apex or Survive the Game, on account of them being so bad they are entertaining.  You could do a lot worse than Survive the Night, and if you give it a shot make sure it's just for curiosity and not because you want to see a quality film.

Rating - 2 out of 4 stars

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