August 28, 2018 Hostile (Movie Review)
Fate has a funny way of rearing her beautiful head in the latest post-apocalyptic piece, Hostile, which arrives to Digital HD and VOD on Tuesday, September 4, 2018, thanks to 4Digital Media.
In a post-apocalyptic wasteland where it’s everyone for themselves, self-sacrificing, scrappy Juliette (Brittany Ashworth: The Crucifixion 2017, Accident Man 2018) has left behind a nest of nearly 40 survivors to pick through the rubble of civilization for gas and food, anything to help the group last another day. In another lifetime, her struggles were an entirely different animal as she tried to scrape by on the mean streets of New York City, drug addicted and doing whatever it took to live another day. Then she met the suave and sophisticated Frenchman Jack (Grégory Fitoussi: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra 2009, World War Z 2013), a gallery owner who took a particular interest in inspiring the young woman to love and to trust, and above all else, to never give up.
Traveling through the desert in a dilapidated, outfitted old van, Juliette is currently searching abandoned gas stations and RVs for supplies. That is, until a horrible but entirely preventable accident leaves her a sitting duck. In the dead of night, trapped inside the overturned van with a fractured tibia, she will come face-to-face with a flesh-hungry creature (Javier Botet: The Conjuring 2 2016, It 2017) intent upon stalking her every move, the most cruel twist of fate for this spirited survivor.
Clocking in at 83 minutes in-length, Hostile was written and directed by Mathieu Turi (Sons of Chaos short 2010, Broken short 2012), and is a feature-length debut for this superbly-talented filmmaker. Truth be told, Hostile is one of those films that defies a clear-cut categorization, though its Drama/Horror billing seems a fair attempt. Here, there is a story within a story: one layer of the tale is heavily embedded in post-apocalyptic Horror, while the other is a Drama with light elements of Romance. Combined, they create a film that is entirely unique, though one might very loosely classify it somewhere alongside 2013’s Warm Bodies – minus the Comedy – and, at least visually speaking, 1985’s Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. In short, this is a Drama set in a Horror-filled world.
Thankfully for the entire production, Hostile’s zombies are a gruesome blend of genderless emaciated humanoid and extraterrestrial vampire – wonderfully created by Jean-Christophe Spadaccini (The City of Lost Children 1995, The Bourne Identity 2002). So, while the tale itself is not exactly horrifying, there is a definite visual intensity to these creatures that lends some thrills throughout the film. In fact, without this genius creativity, Hostile might just be the story of a woman trapped in a van, running through vignettes of her former life in her anxious and fearful mind.
Instead, Hostile is a multi-layered affair that comes to an intriguing conclusion. As she holds down the bulk of the entire tale, Ashworth’s acting talents are largely responsible for the film’s success. In her scenes as her former self, the NY street rat, Ashworth is timidly cautious, untrusting, hardened from a life of barely scraping by; a woman struggling to maintain a façade at night that never quite mirrors her daytime realities.
In her present incarnation, Juliette is hardened in a much different way, a survivor who has the pluck and spirit to persevere even in the most dire of circumstances. In her flashbacks, we see her personal evolution as an individual, and learn what (or whom) inspired this dramatic change in her entire motivation. So, while Juliette may be stuck inside a zombie-filled reality, it is truly her backstory that provides the meat of this tale. In managing both of her disparate roles so wonderfully, Ashworth buoys the story and gives it much of its impact.
Of course, one cannot ignore the flawless mastery of Fitoussi as the older, more refined gentleman Jack. His character is the entire impetus for Juliette’s evolution, and the motivation behind her newfound drive to live. As Jack, Fitoussi is perfectly suave and charismatic, a sophisticated man who is searching or something greater than art galleries and disinterested, fair-weather relationships. It is his love and trust that give this story its ultimate warmth.
In fact, Hostile in truly more of a tale of fate than anything: who we were then impacts heavily who we are now, and those that we love will always be carried closest to our hearts. It takes a certain level of hostility to survive the travails of life and love, so why should the zombie apocalypse be any different? A wonderfully haunting tale that is steeped in flashbacks to real life drama, Hostile does a lot with very little, formulating a story that is as unique as its magnificently creep-tastic creatures. For these reasons, CrypticRock give Hostile 4 of 5 stars.