I have always loved movies within movies. Like “Angels with Filthy Souls” in Home Alone. Or to go darker than “pumping your guts full of lead”, the werewolf movie in Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” amped up the zombie finale nicely. And of course, lest we forget all the “Stab” films in the Scream franchise (God bless Heather Graham). It gives the film a self-referential and richer texture, and also adds spoof and a meta take on filmmaking itself.
SAVE YOURSELF (2015), directed by Ryan M. Andrews, begins exactly as this: A theater filled with horror fans watching tough as nails ladies in a violent “Charlie’s Angels-esque” scene on celluloid. It is here, at the “film’s” premiere, that we are introduced to our protagonists. Each of the 5 women we meet (who are either actors or members of the production team) display early in Andrews’s film their distinct personalities - which is really refreshing. Often times in ensemble casts, only one or two characters are fleshed out. Here, we get a motley crew of ambitious and contrasting women, all gearing up to set out for their film’s promotional tour (road trip style).
At the center of the group, veteran scream queen Tristan Risk acts as Crystal Lacroix, the tenacious yet anxiety-ridden director. She has no patience for dilly-dallying and insists her crew hit the road. In true horror style, the road trip does not go exactly as planned. A crew member is soon missing, the car is inoperable, cell phones are rendered useless, and the only choice left is to seek help a “few miles down the road.” Where this could be stale (it’s an archetype often used in the last 5 decades of horror), SAVE YOURSELF keeps things fresh with characters who actually stay together and fight together. When they stumble upon a rambling country house in a rural area, their on-screen toughness must manifest itself into a real life thirst for survival. And there is a kick-in-your-ass twist that ups the ante on any wrong turn or chainsaw massacre, even in Texas.
Andrews’ SAVE YOURSELF plays a wrestling tongue-in-cheek meet with clichés, slays with an awesome cast, and twists gore and psychological horror into 91 minutes of female-centric badassery. There is far more than meets the eye here on this country plot.
SAVE YOURSELF is screening at our next showcase Monday, May 2 at Screenland Armoud in Kansas City, Missouri. RSVP here.