Screams Cut Short: SURVIVOR TYPE (2012)

Billy Hanson – Writer and Director
Adapted from the short story by Stephen King
Review by Gregory G. Kurczynski

Imagine you are alone, stranded in a desolate place with few tools, no food and your chances of ever being rescued are somewhere between slim and none. What would you be willing to do to survive? That is the question as we take a look at SURVIVOR TYPE, a powerfully gruesome short from director Billy Hanson that he adapted from Stephen King’s short story of the same name.

For those unfamiliar with King’s original tale, first published in 1982, SURVIVOR TYPE is the story of Richard Pine (Gideon Emery), a surgeon with a shady past who finds himself stranded on a deserted island after the cruise ship he was travelling aboard sinks. Actually, the term “deserted island” is an exaggeration; it’s more like a large, barren rock. With little more than a few gallons of fresh water, a knife, his wits and a will to live, we follow Pine as he documents his challenge to survive until he can be rescued. But with no food source on the island and only the occasional chance of killing a seagull for dinner, Pine finds himself faced with few options to avoid starvation. And he is so very hungry…

Since King’s story was written in first person perspective as a diary, it is perfectly natural for Hanson to adapt it for the screen using the “found footage” concept employed by such films as CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (1980) and THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999). Pine’s pen and paper diary has been replaced by a video camera, and in this case the concept works very well. Hanson goes to great efforts to ensure camera placement and movement are consistent with Pine being alone with the camera, with the exception of only one scene where I would argue that there was a camera operator involved that broke the illusion of solitude.

But taken as a whole, SURVIVOR TYPE is one of the best and most disturbing King adaptations I’ve ever seen.  This is due mainly to Hanson’s direction and Gideon Emery’s performance as Pine. Considering that Emery is the only actor onscreen for nearly the entire 30 minute run time, his descent from confidence to desperation, and finally insanity, is an amazing accomplishment. With a lesser actor, this project would have been a failure.

Gideon Emery as Richard Pine in SURVIVOR TYPE.

In closing, SURVIVOR TYPE is one of the best and most faithful adaptations of Stephen King’s work I’ve seen. It is definitely not for the weak stomached; this movie is every bit as difficult to watch as it is to read the original story. But if you have a high tolerance for cinematic pain and suffering ,you owe it to yourself to check it out while it’s making the festival rounds.

You can check out the trailer here.

© Copyright 2012 by Gregory G. Kurczynski


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