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article imageReview: ‘Refuge’ finds sanctuary in familiar territory Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Oct 22, 2014 in Entertainment
‘Refuge’ centres on the suspense-filled lives of a family struggling to survive after a devastating event destroys civilization.
The apocalypse movie continually tells us that all civility and humanity will disappear when major disaster strikes. The world will become a lawless wasteland where the only rule is kill or be killed. Those who attempt to maintain their compassion suffer for their efforts, though finding like-minded survivors can offer some protection. Unnervingly, bleak is generally an understatement. Refuge is one of these pictures.
A fatal infection has decimated the world’s population. Unable to contain the epidemic, millions died and any semblance of order vanished with the authority that once enforced it. There are few survivors staying in small groups and scavenging for food in an increasingly unsympathetic environment. Jack (Carter Roy), his wife, Nell (Amy Rutberg), and their unwell daughter, Birdie (Eva Grace Kellner), take shelter in a secluded farm house with two strangers, Kyle and Russell (Chris Kies and Sebastian Beacon, respectively). But one of them is running from a group of marauders who don’t take kindly to deserters and their only hope may be a safe haven in Canada run by Russell’s brother.
The proceedings and personalities in the film are typical of the genre as the end of the world seems to bring out the worst in so many people. Groups of men patrol with weapons, searching for food and women. They are more than willing to take either by force and often appear to prefer it that way. On the flipside are people like Jack’s family, just trying to stay alive with as little interference from the outside world as possible.
This is not the most eventful story as large chunks of the narrative are spent gathered around the cassette player at home or wandering the woods hoping they’re headed in the right direction. The family encounters an occasional threat, but with the exception of two significant occurrences they’re relatively brief. The raiders are only featured in relation to the main characters, though it may have been interesting to show more of their movements leading up to certain scenes.
This movie achieves in depicting “normal” people without any specific survivalist training, enduring on instinct and necessity. Even the plunderers appear to have been average Joes at one time, though they’ve chosen a more hostile method of continued existence. First-time writer/director Andrew Robertson doesn’t try to tread new ground, sticking to the beaten path. But he competently strings together these familiar elements to form a picture that effectively captures the tone and look of the film category, while injecting a bit more hope than is characteristically incorporated into these movies.
Refuge is part of a post-apocalyptic double feature at the 2014 Toronto After Dark Film Festival.
Director: Andrew Robertson
Starring: Sebastian Beacon, Chris Kies and Carter Roy
More about Review, Toronto After Dark, Refuge, Andrew Robertson, Carter Roy
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