Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Survivor

Keller, another one of James Herbert's compelling one-name heroes, is the only survivor of a shocking plane crash. He mission to discover why and how he survived drives the book's narrative.

When the souls of the dead crash victims begin to interfere with the lives of those who live close to the crash sight, Herbert springs into action and delivers a classic tale of horror that is less hardcore but no less compelling than his previous The Fog.

In '81, five years after the book's publication, actor David Hemmings traveled to South Australia to direct a film version of The Survivor for producer Antony I. Ginnane.

Fortunately, it's not awful, but it's not a masterpiece, either.

Herbert's smart concept is not well exploited by screenwriter David Ambrose and David Hemmings' direction is plodding.

Production values, however, are decent. The crash of the plane into a field is decently realized, and the music by the late Brian May is moody and rich.

It is the film's failure to embrace the material in a more enthusiastic way that ultimately derails its potential. It's as if Hemmings was uncomfortable delivering a horror film.

Herbert's novel, first published in '76, is a dark and remarkable classic of uneasy terror, and may have been an influence somewhat on the source novel of Peter Weir's Fearless ('93).

The little-seen film didn't hurt the novel's reputation.

1 comment:

  1. I liked 'Survivor' the film a lot, but felt there was something missing. I assumed it realised only a fraction of what the novel suggested- but never got around to confirming as I didn't read it.

    I think your 'Fearless' suggestion is correct, and I even see a hint of it in "Unbreakable"- albeit a different mode of transport. The fact that he turned out to be 'super' was a step in the right direction, and 'Final Destination' edging that way, to be sure, but have the possibilities of surviving a wreck really been explored to the max in film?

    When I see someone survive a major transport accident, I want to see some MAJOR transformations- and not just some vague 'new age' promise to live a better life!!

    There must be ghosties! Beasties! And BLOOD!!

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