Rarely do I take the opportunity to unleash hellish fury on a film, for the skill and dedication it takes to make a film cohesive and bearable, especially with a limited budget, is worth respecting. But while bearable, Preservation is powerfully underwhelming. Everything in this film is forgettable except for three particular scenes, and those scenes will only further my distaste for the film as a whole whenever I recall them.
The first scene was at the very beginning of the film. We see our protagonists entering the cliche "convenience store of foreboding death". One of our heroes is standing outside talking on his cell phone when something drips onto his face, perhaps even getting into his eye. The camera pans up as the hero walks away and we see a grocery bag hanging from the side of the store. It begins to shake and make ominous, creature-from-within noises. It reminded me of the egg sacs from 1993's Ticks (aka Infested). And while that movie is no masterpiece, it is one of my favorite guilty pleasure B horror movies.
The scene stuck with me the entire movie, as I sat hoping that something would come from the seemingly-obvious foreshadowing. Despite my knowledge of the synopsis, I kept waiting for the twist of the thing from the bag making an appearance. But sadly, it was all for not. The bag scene never plays a part in the film. The killers are just crazy teens. The twist is there is no twist. And we are left wanting.
The second scene was minutes later when our trio goes deer hunting. After our female protagonist takes off after a deer (in just an awkard scene of acting, by the way), we see her faced with the opportunity to take the animal down. In just an awful display of "effects", the character is seemingly "green screened" into the foreground with the deer. Even with the knowledge of the film's small budget, I found it to be lazy and an inexcusable display of poor craftsmanship. Seriously...you couldn't find a shot with your actor and a deer? You couldn't take the extra time to find a way to make that shot more realistic and intuitive with your cast? It really took me out of the film and I realized what I was to expect as far as quality from here on out.
The third scene was the death of our ex-military brother character. Presented as the hero, it was supposed to be a surprise when he is killed off first. And yes, this was a surprise, but it wasn't a good surprise. It was a baffling error in judgment in the script. Our ex-military hero turns his back on his "unconscious" assailant, and for no particular reason. Not only this, but he then is killed by this assailant soon after inexplicably turning his back on him. This leads to so many problems as the film wears on. Not only does "turning your back on those trying to kill you" become a comedically common theme throughout the rest of the film, but when we are given our "twist" that the killers are teens, the surprise death of our ex-military hero earlier in the film becomes all-the-more ridiculous.
All of these blunders eventually led to this critical fallout. As I would give anyone who was able to make a film that held together from title to credits, this film gets an A for effort. But as for about everything else, it doesn't get a passing grade.