It was inevitable I guess… two things:
1) I would want to do a movie review on here
2) Someone would make a movie like Man vs.
We start with Doug Woods. A man who goes around the world and is dropped off in foreign places with a couple of handicams. His mission is to survive a few nights, give people some fun facts about how to survive if you are a stranded tourist, and take up 45 minutes of reality TV. Did I mention his name is Doug Woods.. they never address if it is his real name, but I’ve heard about too many weathermen named ‘Stormy’ to think it isn’t a put on.
Things are going normally for our pal Doug. He’s roughing it. Starting fires with a soda can. Hunting wabbits. Every once in a while though, the video goes all wonky on us. Like digital interference. In the first 30 minutes, when all the freaky starts in, I won’t deny, I started really paying attention to the backs of the scenes in case there was a Slenderman appearance. It was that exact same sort of digital effect and peak volume overload noise.
That’s not what we got.. ah-hem.
Two days go by and Doug, who conveniently can spout exposition at us unendingly, talks into one camera as if we are the audience and the other as if we are the producers and tv mucmamucks that are living it up a few miles away. Having seen a reasonable amount of these types of survival shows, I can’t help but feel that this movie took a real obvious and cynical position on how the host deals with these things. The longer Doug’s torment goes, the more and more he has disdain for both the audience and the woods themselves. Now, I could suggest that this is him fraying at the seams as the entirety of the situation goes from bad to fuckball crazy, but the movie isn’t that deep.
What the movie does well though, is build the tension. It builds the ‘what’ is after Doug. What killed the fish? What set off his food traps? Then eventually Doug gets to thinking it is a ‘who’ as in ‘Who stole his SAT phone’ and ‘Who played the next move in his chess game?’ (more on that shortly) …and when we get to the final reveal and then the reveal’s reveal – well – the movie doesn’t fall apart as much as you just sort of go, ‘Oooh…’ and you don’t get to do much more, because the movie’s over.
Here come the spoilers:
Doug is being hunted by an alien. An alien that makes a subtle clicking noise that goes invisible. An alien with infrared vision that has a hairstyle straight out of a b-list reggae concert. That’s right. A Schmedator, the evil cousin of those other guys that we’re not allowed to mention due to the fact that this movie was made by some Syfy style company in Canada. The one thing the Schmedator has that their cousins don’t is a sonic scream ability which is used twice in the movie, and then in the 3rd time… Doug just ropadopes out of it… No radiant pain – if you are within the wavy line cone, you are fucked. JUSST outside of it, and you have saved your own life, sir.
A couple things about Schmeddy, as I’ve come to know and love him. Remember how I said that Doug thought it was a ‘who’ because of his chess game. That wasn’t a silly comment. Doug plays chess with himself while out in the woods. He comes back to camp at some point and the next move has been made, and from what we are told by Shitty-Bear Gryllz, it was a good move. We are given enough to recognize that Schmooshy just landed here… it does seem a little far-fetched that even if he has been watching our planet, he knows chess well enough to make a move so good that the man playing himself wouldn’t have noticed it.
But Jamie, it is just a ham-handed metaphor for how the creature is one step ahead at all times…
I know. That doesn’t make it better.
In the end, there is a final fight between faux-Cody Lundin and Schmuckleberry that was filmed in a cave at midnight. I turned the brightness on my phone all the way up and all I could figure out was that they were fighting in or near water – which at least means these pansies don’t have that fatal SIGNS flaw.
In the end – is it a bad movie. No. It’s not good either, but it was good background noise where if you ignore it for 5 minutes, you miss nothing.
One last thing – Doug Woods is played by Chris Diamantopoulos, aka Russ from Silicon Valley – which makes it hard to not, at least once, throughout the film say… ‘this guy hunts.’
Final Rating: B