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Preservation

This film was a lot of fun, and honestly I went in a little skeptical because, well, Netflix didn't give it four stars or higher. However, I have to say that this was one of the most enjoyable horror films I've seen in years. Why? Well, honestly, I prefer a certain style when it comes to horror. In this case, the film made excellent use of the foreground and background, inserting or taking away what we expect or don't expect into a shot. It did this without relying on sound effects (or jump scares, as they're pejoratively labeled, nowadays). Even John Carpenter used sound effects in his masterpiece, Halloween, but plenty of shots didn't, and were more effective. Preservation had this same technique down pat, and I was mesmerized by how many creative ways it would play with viewer and defy expectations.

For example, the opening scene in the film takes place inside a moving car, with two brothers singing a song as they drive through a forest. The cameraman is position in the backseat, and only on POV is provided for most of the scene. We think that the re is only two of them in car, as they talk back and forth, but always look forward or at each other. Towards the end of the scene, however, one of the brothers appears to break the fourth wall by talking to the camera, when in fact the scene cuts to a woman sitting in the backseat from the man's POV. It reminded me a lot of Deckard pulling his gun on Rachel in the elevator, in Blade Runner.

What was even more fun is a lot of these tricks were done in single takes, with a character stepping out of the shot when the camera pans to the left or to the right; so, when it readjusts, the character appears to have "vanished." It's a classic visual effect, if you want to call it that, or sleight of hand, and in my opinion, the best kind of special effect there is, because it does such a number on your imagination.

I also enjoyed the fact that the killers were children, a fact concealed by the masks they wore, and something the Final Girl dissolves when she slays the ringleader and removes his mask. There's almost no dialogue from the killers, and they communicate with cell phone tweets even when in earshot of each other. Their motives are never revealed, but it's obviously for fun, like a kind of sick game.

The music was great, though several shots had no music at all. One in particular, with the boys on their bikes, was completely silent of any sound at all except for the female character singing on the Walkie Talkie. It made the shot much more profound than it would have been, had there been sound effects (reminding me of the eerie silence of silence horror films such as Nosferatu). Furthermore, a lot of the camerawork was hazy or dreamy and coupled with the trance-like score (something straight out of a John Carpenter film, though at times I was reminded of You're Next) evoked a phantasmagorical sensation.

The cast was very small, but the actors all did a fine job. Any good horror film makes you care about the characters before they die, and here, the characters were all sympathetic, despite the flaws of each. It's also worth noting that Pablo Schreiber -- aka "Pornstache" -- from Orange is the New Black starred in this, and did an excellent job in a serious role.

This is the kind of film that's been done before, but this was clearly a labor of love, with a lot of attention to detail. I've read some reviews complaining about the plot, but honestly, it's about the sights and sounds in a horror film and this one delivers in the best possible way.

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