MAN VS. (2015)
Directed by Adam Massey
Available on DVD from Amazon
Television adventurer Doug Woods and his team travel to a remote part of Ontario where Doug will spend 5 days on his own in the woods fending for himself and surviving. Documenting his survival for a third season of his TV show WOODS VS., Doug is reminded by his brother, the series’ editor, that they’ve got to get solid footage if their programme is to make it big and be picked up by cable networks.
The first day or so spent alone goes down how Doug would expect but when he hears a noise in the woods during the night and finds his catch of the day, a wild rabbit, has disappeared from his camp, he starts to suspect he’s not alone…
Survival horror thriller MAN VS. takes the idea of a Bear Grylls type character and thrusts him into an experience he’ll never forget. Though the character of Doug Woods is confident and experienced in the art of survival from making a fire, creating a rabbit trap and building a shelter, what he isn’t prepared for is any sort of threat towards him. When he spots a wolf early on in the film, we sense that he’s never really come up against a pack of predators before but something tells both us and Doug that it isn’t the wolf he should be worried about as whoever is out there in the isolated forest with him knows how to play chess. Last time I checked, wolves don’t play chess.
Initially, Doug comes across as a bit of a knob with an ego problem. His wife seems displeased with his frequent trips away, leaving her and their young daughter behind, but Doug goes regardless. As we spend more time with him alone in the woods, we get to know him a bit better and he becomes more likable as he goes around trying to shoot footage for his five days of survival. We sense the fear of the unknown watching Doug at night, disturbing his camp and stealing his food which puts us into the shoes of what it must feel like to be him. With no way of contacting his team and with all his survival skills thwarted, the chance of Doug’s survival is quickly becoming slim especially with a smarter survivalist out there who seems to have made Doug his prey.
MAN VS. is a great idea and is executed rather well. It manages to keep the viewer engaged even if it feels a little stagnant sometimes but that comes with the setting and subject material. The use of CGI to advance the plot is tastefully done considering it’s a budget effort and manages to create the tension and fear desired from both Doug and the viewer. There’s one particular stand-out moment where we see Doug meet the mysterious predator for the first time. The effect it has on Doug is simply jaw-dropping to watch.
Thanks to this film, we have a better idea how Bear Grylls might cope should he be up against a predator who outsmarts him on every level. Now who doesn’t want to watch that?