Some directors just have it. They take what shouldn't work and breathe new life into it. That's exactly what writer / director Justin McConnell did with his post-apocalyptic thriller The Collapsed. When I opened up the envelope and saw it was another grim look at our destroyed Earth, I put up a mental wall and said to myself, "Another one of these movies?"
The movie revolves around a family making their way to the town where they once lived. The parents' oldest son still lives there and they want to make sure he is still alive after an apocalyptic event knocks out all communications and wipes out most of civilization. They find themselves running for their lives through the forest while being hunted by two things: armed scavengers they can see and an unseen force that follows them at a distance but won't reveal itself.
Thankfully, The Collapsed rises above the norm and accomplishes what its creator wants it to be. It's a suspenseful and slow-burning tale of a man who won't give up on his family or himself no matter what the odds are. Even as things are taken from him one by one, his drive to stay alive fuels him to keep moving forward.
It's also a bleak look at what we can expect to happen if the world ever does sink into an economic and technological black hole. A place where everyone is out to take care of themselves and there are no rules being enforced by a government or moral establishment of any kind. Some people say we don't give the human race the benefit of the doubt; that we would find a way to help each other and get along if there was ever a global meltdown. Director McConnell is more of a realist and shows it through his dark and cynical look at what he thinks would occur.
I don't want to reveal anything, but I think it's necessary to help give viewers a reason to see the movie and stick with it to the end. There are no zombies involved. I kept waiting for a rabid wild-eyed walking carcass to jump out at me and it never did. Just shake that thought out of your head. I think most people will be pleasantly (or unpleasantly?) surprised by how this turns out. I know I was satisfied with the entire thing.
I was a little irritated when I clicked on the special features and saw that the "Making of" documentary was available only through a coded web link and not on the actual disc. This practice is extremely annoying and it just keeps getting worse. When I put a Blu-ray or DVD in my player, I don't want to have to get up, take the disc out, re-insert it in my computer, and then enter a code to see an extra feature. I want it to be at my fingertips. There's audio commentary with writer / producer / director Justin McConnell and co-producer Kevin Hutchinson. Lead actor John Fantasia provides commentary as well. The original score is available to hear on the disc and you can download it free via MP3. The original screenplay is also included. It's all rounded off by cast and crew bios, a photo gallery, and trailers.
The Collapsed is a dark and depressing look at the end of humanity as we know it. It's nothing we haven't seen before, but everything director / writer McConnell borrows from other sources he utilizes in creative ways. A thought-provoking and solid feature film mixed with some entertaining bonus material and access to other online material make this a recommended buy for fans of apocalyptic films.