Survive the night

  • 13 Jun - 19 Jun, 2020
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

If armed criminals invade your home and take you hostage, don't despair. Instead, make the most of it. Use the opportunity to work out your domestic and family issues. That, at least, seems to be the main takeaway from Bruce Willis' latest B-movie vehicle, in which he takes second billing to Chad Michael Murray of One Tree Hill fame. Using the Desperate Hours template that has fueled countless thrillers since, Survive the Night is a particularly forgettable example of a tired subgenre that, like so many of Willis' recent efforts, squanders his still estimable movie-star charisma.

The grizzled actor, here making no effort to hide his years, plays Frank, a retired sheriff who has a contentious relationship with his doctor son Rich (Murray), whose career is in tatters thanks to a malpractice suit after the death of a patient. Despite their personal difficulties, the two men live together in Frank's home, along with Rich's mother (Jessica Abrams), his wife (Lydia Hull) and their teenage daughter (Riley Wolfe Rach).

As the story begins, we're introduced to criminal siblings Mathias (Tyler Jon Olson) and Jamie (Shea Buckner), who, like so many nefarious duos, have distinctly different personalities. Mathias is the brains of the two, not wanting to hurt people if he can help it, while the hot-headed Jamie is a loose cannon, all too willing to resort to violence. His careless brutality becomes a major problem when the two rob a convenience store, with Jamie gunning down a customer and Mathias getting shot and seriously wounded by the armed clerk.

Unwilling to risk Mathias' being treated in a hospital, the criminals instead follow Rich home from work. Breaking into the home, they accidentally kill Rich's mother and then threaten to murder the rest of his family unless he operates on Mathias' leg.

Cue the predictable plot mechanics, as Rich desperately attempts to stall for time – he's convinced that he'll botch the job if he attempts the surgery – and prevent the men from harming his family. Eventually, of course, Frank springs into action, or, considering his overall rustiness, at least limps into it.

Even considering the time-tested reliability of the scenario, director Matt Eskandari and screenwriter Doug Wolfe somehow manage to render it utterly devoid of suspense.