on 28 June 2014
From the director of Night of the Comet comes this highly underrated supernatural thriller/horror film, Sole Survivor has all the ingredients to make it an effective horror film. It's filled with suspense and has some great and creepy visuals, and despite it's low budget origins it was really well made with some great acting from the main actress. Written and directed by Thom Eberhardt, Sole Survivor has a plot that should be familiar with anyone who has ever seen any of the Final Destination films. Denise (Anita Skinner) is a neurotic commercial producer who, as the film opens, is the sole survivor of a horrendous airplane crash. (When we first see Denise, she’s still sitting in her seat, surrounded by the remains of her fellow passengers.)
Against the advice of just about everyone, Denise insists on dealing with the trauma of the accident by trying to return to her normal life. This is complicated, however, by the fact that she’s still having dreams about the plane crash. Everywhere she looks, she sees mysterious and menacing strangers watching her. And, on top of everything else, she is now being stalked by a mentally unstable former actress who claims to be having nightmarish visions of Denise’s future. Is Denise suffering from survivor’s guilt (as her doctor boyfriend insists) or is she instead being pursued by Death?
As I mentioned previously, its easy to compare Sole Survivor with the Final Destination films. However, a more appropriate comparison would be to the 1962 black-and-white classic Carnival of Souls. Whereas the Final Destination films are largely about coming up with ludicrously convoluted ways for Death to get what he or she wants, Sole Survivor (like Carnival of Souls) is less concerned with how Death gets the job done and more concerned with building and maintaining a growing sense of dread and hopelessness. For the most part, director Eberhardt disdains easy shock effects in order to concentrate on building up a palpable atmosphere of doom. As a result, the film can occasionally seem to be a little slow but it stays with you even after the final credit.
Also, much like Carnival of Souls, Sole Survivor features an excellent lead performance from an actress who, more or less, disappeared from movie screens after the film’s release. Sole Survivor was released on DVD by Code Red, so now people like me can appreciate this neglected movie. The transfer looks great but there aren't that many extras, we get an intro to the film by Larkey, an interview with Larkey and Romeo, and a commentary with Larkey, Romeo, film historian Jeff McKay, and director Jeff Burr, plus trailers for this film and a few others. Sole Survivor is a an overlooked classic of the horror genre. This was definitely one of my favorite code red dvd and if you liked this one then I'd definitely recommend these other titles The Dead Pit, Beyond The Door, Devil Times Five, Girls in Chains and Messiah of Evil.