Last month we brought you the news that the highly acclaimed post-Apocalyptic thriller Refuge had been released by Gravitas Ventures and was available on VOD, iTunes and Amazon. I’m back today with a review of the film. Director Andrew Robertson has asked me to keep my review spoiler free so I’ll absolutely respect his wishes.
Refuge chronicles the struggles of a family trying to survive in the wake of a deadly and mysterious catastrophic event that has brought America to its knees. The film stars Amy Rutberg (Elementary, Daredevil), Eva Grace Kellner (Boardwalk Empire), Chris Kies (The Blacklist), Carter Roy and Sebastian Beacon as a band of survivors in what was once a thriving American suburb that has now devolved into a lawless world of roaming gangs and dwindling resources.
Despite their efforts to remain hidden from the pervasive marauders and dangers that surround them, the family is ultimately discovered and forced to fight for survival. But, fighting back has its consequences.
Plot & Thoughts
As I said, I’m going to keep this one spoiler free but I have to say from the word go this one grabbed me and really never let go. The film starts out with a group of guys with guns looking at a home. Two of the guys argue about whether they can “take” an occupied home. Apparently there has been a rule established previously that stated unoccupied homes only. I couldn’t quite tell what was going on just yet, but it was clear that there was one “good guy”and one “bad guy”. The good guy stays and the rest of the group goes into the house and gunfire ensues as we fade to black.
After this tone setting scene we get some news footage that tells us just what we’re dealing with: a super virus that is clearly very difficult to contain. We flash forward and we’re now in a post-Apocalyptic world. We get a voice over of a man who’s holed up with his wife, daughter and another man.
I’ve got to stop and say. This film looks… amazing. It’s got the grittiness and darkness that you’d expect from a world that’s falling apart yet it’s still clear, bright and sunny during the day. One thing that sort of always bugs me about post-Apocalyptic films is its a) always dark and b) always raining. Refuge didn’t fall into that trap and I appreciate it.
Not only does the film look great, but it sounds incredible too. This is VERY rare in independent films. There’s always audio issues where you either can’t hear dialog, leaves are rustling in the background, motors of cars don’t sound right, etc. I didn’t get any of that here and it vastly improved the film watching experience.
Our cast seems to be rather comfortable in their home, making their way through life. This isn’t a The Walking Dead type scenario where the dead are out to get them. This is more about people fighting people and folks just sort of keeping to themselves. We see them going through life, celebrating birthdays, getting sick, recovering and scavenging surrounding areas. Business picks up when our group meets other groups. I’ll leave it at that and allow you to discover it for yourself.
The scenery here is superb. I need to find out where it was shot, partially because I wrote it in my notes, and partially because it struck me just how perfect it is for a fallen and abandoned society. Props to whoever scouted locations for the film.
One negative I found was that I had a crazy difficult time telling a few of our main characters apart from one another. I’m not sure if it was by design to have them look similar or an unfortunate casting coincidence but it didn’t take away from the film too much.
There’s a scene toward the end of the film I especially enjoyed where our crew gets lost in the woods. They make camp for the night and desperation is starting to set in. They hear people in the woods and are on full guard. The folks (with flashlights) walk right by them without seeing our heroes camped out. It’s a small scene but incredibly intense.
The end scene is super creepy and amps up that intensity from the “lost in the woods” scene. There’s a sort of “out of nowhere” element that I’m not quite sure about but the film closed in a very satisfying way. I’m a big “movie ending” guy so I was thrilled to see this one wrap up in a very compelling way.
If I was writing a sentence to be on the Refuge movie poster or DVD cover art I might say something like this: “Refuge delivers an intense and visceral look at a post-Apocalyptic world where anarchy rules the day and caring for others has consequences.” Or something like that. I’m not writing for cover art so I’ll simply say this. Refuge is film that looks, sounds and feels like someone has put their heart and soul into it. It’s not a perfect film (no movie is) but it’s got a genuine feel to it that sets it apart from the deluge of zombie or “end of the world” genre pieces we’ve been getting in recent years. This is a film that cast, crew, director, producer and writers should be proud of. Strong recommend.
- Official Site: www.refuge-the-movie.com
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/PasserbyFilms
- Twitter: @passerbyfilms
- Gravitas on Twitter: @GravitasVOD
Have you seen Refuge? Leave us a comment with your thoughts.