Survival Instinct is a low budget British horror-thriller from Midlands-based writer/director Steve Lawson. The film riffs on the old trope of being caught in the wilderness and being chased down by an assailant (a favourite for fiscally fickle filmmakers) and films like Duel, Deliverance, The Most Dangerous Game are obvious creative touchstones. The film targets these previous efforts and it hits the mark for what it sets out to achieve. If you go in expecting that type of survival film (albeit on a budget) then you won’t leave disappointed.
Lawson’s film sees Stacey and Thom (Helen Crevel and Jay Sutherland) on their way to a wedding when their car over-heats. Stacey takes-off in search of help but Thom comes a-cropper when he stumbles upon a father-son pair of poachers (Andrew Coughlan Sam Smith). Stacey eventually comes back but the duo aren’t interested in leaving around any loose ends and they take-off after her. However, they don’t bargain on Stacey’s tenacity or ingenuity once her Survival Instinct kicks-in.
You don’t need to beat-about-the-bush with this sort of movies and there’s no point in spending time in the build-up. Survival Instinct runs at a tight 85 minutes and Lawson doesn’t spend too much time on superfluous plot points and he literally cuts to the chase as soon as he can. However, he does cram-in some characterisation along the way and gives Andrew Coughlan an interesting back story and motivation.
A film with a budget as low as Survival Instinct is going to be a little rough around the edges and financial limitations mean that there will never be any spectacular set pieces. However, Steve Lawson uses the film’s locations to his advantage and he has created a film that is true to his intentions.
Fans of low budget thrillers will take much away from Survival Instinct. It’s well made and clearly inspired by a selection of classic wilderness-set thrillers. The performances are good and the film has some nicely timed moments of tension. It’s clear that this is a movie made by a movie buff and writer/director Steve Lawson stays true to his vision of making an exploitation film.
Survival Instinct will be getting a limited cinematic release in the UK. See it in the following locations:
Nottingham: Screen 22 on 3 March 2016
Derby: Quad Cinema on 23 March 2016
Birmingham: Electric Cinema 28 March 2016