Brian Everett’s younger brother Sam goes missing on the island of Tasmania during the middle of a mysterious quarantine forcing Brian to traverse across enemy lines to save his brother from an army of ghosts.
Whether it be a mega box office blockbuster like the recently resurrected Mad Max or a scantily budgeted indie like Threads or Wyrmwood, practically every post-apocalyptic movie paints a portrait of the decimated and perilous detritus of a dilapidated world. As wild as I am for all of the aforementioned movies, what’s so significant about Jason Trost’s latest adventure, How To Save Us, is the eye-pleasing post-apocalyptic atmosphere he conjures up, something audiences are by no means accustomed to.
It was this aesthetic that sucked me right into this one man versus the desolate world yarn which serves glaring testament to Trost’s love for his favourite book, ‘I Am Legend’ and video games such as ‘Resident Evil’ and ‘Silent Hill’. Whilst the Tasmanian setting certainly plays a key role in providing the look and feel of the film, lest we forget DP Phil Miller’s panoramic cinematography that turns already breathtaking sceneries into something even more astounding yet.
Trost is perfectly suited as the lone crusader, Brian, who bears the weight of pretty much the entire film as he heads off in search of his younger brother. The fact he is able to utterly chew up the scenery with just a dictaphone as his ally speaks for itself. Although How To Save Us is a supernatural story that more often than not stretches the boundaries of the suspension of disbelief, it’s Trost’s authentic performance and heavily family focused script that keep the film that much more relatable and will no doubt keep audiences invested to the very end.
Another aspect that really struck a chord with me was the novel set of rules Trost laid down in order to survive a supernatural attack. One particular survival tactic involved patting human ash all over his body to keep the supernatural at bay, something that instantly brought Predator to mind – always a good thing. Then, when the ghosts actually make an appearance they possess a particularly unique quality and provide some disturbingly effective scares. That said, my only particular gripe with the film was the ending, but thankfully this had nothing to do with the story itself. When the film comes to the final crunch we get to see the special effects in all their close up glory and I think the “less is more” strategy could have and would have worked much better here. I’m guessing this was down to budget restraints but it was such a shame as all the effects and scares up to that point had proved so effective.
Despite the final letdown, How To Save Us is ultimately a fine little piece of refreshing and relatable cinema. Thanks to some inspired visuals, unique concepts and a sterling lead performance the end result is a more than impressive first bash at the horror genre from Jason Trost.
Words: Howard Gorman (@Howard Gorman)