Film Review: SURVIVAL BOX (USA 2019)

Survival Box Poster
Seven teenagers. Five months. Twenty feet underground. No exit. The gripping story of a handful of high school kids trapped in a wealthy Philadelphia family’s backyard bunker.

Director:

William Scoular

SURVIVAL BOX opens with radio announcements of the Hiroshima bombing during World War II, the Cuban missal threat and the North Korean and President Trump threat of who first push the red button (or the bigger red button).  From the film title, anyone without any prior knowledge of SURVIVAL BOX can guess what is going to happen next in this awful low budget Canadian disaster (literally) flick.

Some kind of nuclear explosion has eradicated the planet.  A group of 7 has made it by chance to a SURVIVAL BOX, a nuclear bunker and living with sufficient food, water and air (again by chance) for 300 or so days before the radiation dies down.  What happens during these days make the story and the film.

The group of 7 happen to be teens at some party or other.  They decide to party it up privately in the wealthy family’s nuclear bunker when the nuclear disaster occurs and the exits of the bunker are automatically locked.  

There are countless reasons SURVIVAL BOX fails to engage.  Among the reasons:

  • the story contains too many coincidences for credibility.  For one the timing of the disaster with the timing of the party;  the availability of food, water and air for survival and the readily apparent anti-radioactive suits that can be worn to venture to the outside
  • nothing much happens after the group of 7 are trapped.  The 7 have to sit through the 300 or so days.  The audience has to sit through 90 minutes of boredom.  Who will break first?
  • the teens are terribly annoying,  They bitch and argue half the time.  The teen actors are not convincing either.
  • one of the girls delivers a baby.   Really?  Teens suddenly manage to deliver, feed and clothe a baby.
  • the teens go about without having to do the nasties like the number 1’s and 2’s.  The males do not have beards after being down there for months and the girls’ hair do not grow longer either
  • nothing much is shown of the outside but the winter landscape of some countryside depicting the nuclear fallout
  • the romance of a couple during the nuclear fallout creates even more problems on the film’s credibility
  • the inane dialogue is also awful  After girl hit a girl hard on the head, he says: “I am sorry.”  “OK.  All is forgiven,” comes the response.

Despite all the faults, the production values are impressive and the low budget film does look good in both the interiors and exteriors.  At one point in the film, there is talk on ‘functional democracy’.  But nothing much else is heard of the matter.

The clichéd line used in already too many thriller or horror films is heard one again in SURVIVAL BOX.  “We will get through this.”  The same question could be asked to the audience whether they can get through this cliched teenage version of an end of the world post apocalyptic survival story.

Trailer: https://www.tribute.ca/trailers/survival-box/25410/

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