The Film (3.5/5)
I will admit that I had not even heard of the Survivor before the Blu-ray was dropped in my mailbox, but putting Jenny Agutter in a featured role in any film will certainly get my immediate interest. The Survivor is a 1981 thriller adapted from the book of the same name by James Herbert (Rats), and is directed by actor turned director David Hemmings, who is known to most films for his turns in Antonioni's Blow Up, and Argento's Deep Red.
Robert Powell stars as a pilot named Keller who miraculously survives a plane wreck where every single other person dies. An investigation begins into the wreck, and notably how he managed to survive without a scratch, journalists and investigators begin to come down on him. He meets up with Hobbs played by Jenny Agutter (American Werewolf in London, Walkabout), who is having visions of the deceased, and the two begin their own investigation on what happened that night. Unfortunately for the pair it is not going to be easy as the dead are angry with Keller and trying to stop him at every turn.
The Survivor is a really strange film with a whole lot of moodiness and atmospherics working in it's favor. The film opens with a huge plane crash which apparently was one of the biggest set pieces ever created for an Australian film. This feels like the big bang that opens a much more subdued film experience as the film has a more relaxed pacing then one might expect from the opening.
Hemmings manages to take some lessons from the school of Argento here as far as creating bizarre visuals that help to carry the film, and the use of Brian May's truly effective score to help power the scenes of terror through the film. That being said while there are truly horrific visuals in the film, it feels largely restrained at times, as if Hemmings is holding back. Also, the ending of the film mixes the rational with the bizarre, and oddly feels like it decided to throw a James Bond villain in there for good measure. Fortunately, I love films that do weird for weirds sake so I took at face value, but it is sure to split audiences.
Severin presents the film in a 2:39:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer preserving the OAR of the film. Things look quite stable here aside from some minor damage and age related issues. Detail is fine, colors are stable and well reproduced, and and blacks are quite decent.
Audio is presented with a DTS-HD mono track in English optional subtitles are included. Dialogue and score come through clearly.
Severin presents the Survivor with a decent extras slate. Most of them come from their prior release of the film. There are archival interviews with much of the cast and crew including director Hemmings. There is also an archival on location piece. There is some deleted bits from Not Quite Hollywood, extended scenes, TV spots and more.
A funny, creepy, and bizarre affair The Survivor gets a solid Blu-ray release from Severin Films. The transfer looks and sounds quite good, and comes with a decent slate of extras. RECOMMENDED.