Like some of you in the horror community, I tend to think survival movies as wimpy compared to some of the gore and slaughter we see in other films. Maybe I’ve been brain washed to think only masked murders can be scary. But The Grey inadvertently proved the wilderness reigns supreme. A true testament to fear and danger, Joe Carnahan’s new film will carve you out of your comfort zone.
We are introduced to Liam Neeson’s character through his monologue. He describes himself as a man who is wretched, just as those he surrounds himself by. Working as a sniper for men who work on the oil rig, Ottway finds little to live for after losing his wife, and carries the heavy memory of her every day. The crew is scheduled for a routine flight to Anchorage, but as the men banter, and sleep, the weather pushes hard on their tiny shuttle and it goes down. As if living through a plane crash isn’t enough, Ottway and several others manage to pull themselves out of the wreckage and snow only to be surrounded by a pack of wild wolves, who know food when they see it. Luckily, Ottway is armed with knowledge of these beasts and leads the group into their best bet of survival. And guiding him is the haunting memory of his father’s poem, repeating incessantly, “Live and die on this day.”
Even after seeing the trailer a thousand times, and reading the tag line of the poster, I didn’t have a real sense of what I’d be in for. So I was caught off guard when just minutes into The Grey I was already feeling compelled and frightened at the same time. The dynamic of this film really entangles the fears of isolation, abandonment, helplessness, and turmoil. But the moment that sticks out the most to me is the airplane crash itself. Never have I felt so afraid for the characters on screen, and for myself, as glass, snow, fire, and people are flung every which direction. And you watch, in awe, those moments of chaos until it finally reaches impact.
My opinion is that this movie was less about life and more about death. Unlike the usual survival movie, the characters were given slim opportunities to survive, and so, they were forced to come to terms with death individually. Miles from civilization, encompassed by freezing weather, and targeted for their weaknesses by cunning and capable animals, the sole survivors of a plane crash are forced to wonder what odds they have left. And we witness each man lose his protective shell and becomes a naked soul just begging for something better than this. I found something worthy in each scene. The serenity and vastness of their environment against the growling rumble of the unseen beasts plays poetically as each man meets his end. Somehow Neason himself is knowledgeable and strong enough to make it so far, despite being a man who lost all hope in his life. But that’s what we want to watch, someone who is almost superhuman in their ability to overcome such struggles.
I highly recommend this movie to all open-minded and veteran viewers, who will take this movie for what it is, instead of what it isn’t. Savage score chews 4 out of 5. If Neeson was anymore fierce, they’d make a verb out of his name. Gore score burns a 6 out of 10; just enough to stain the snow red. What I advocate most about this film is its ability to incite fear and passion at the same time