“SURVIVE THE NIGHT”
Rated R. Available on streaming platforms.
If you’re making a home invasion thriller, “Survive the Night” (on multiple platforms) says precisely what needs to be said for a scenario that has a farm family held hostage by a pair of murderous thieves.
All they want to do is see the sun rise.
Bruce Willis, a 40-year veteran of fighting for his life in movies, is brusque ex-sheriff Frank, whose rural home with his loving wife now includes his daughter Jan (Lydia Hull), who has moved back in with her young daughter and disgraced doctor husband Rich (Chad Michael Murray, “One Tree Hill”).
Willis, who has morphed into a less-is-less minimal screen presence, makes Frank a slow-burn kind of guy who barely hides the contempt he has for his son-in-law.
But before “Survive” can deliver its life-or-death stand-off, the ostensible thriller begins as two galoots, brothers Jamie (Shea Buckner) and Mathias (Tyler Jon Olson), botch a robbery.
Making matters far worse, Mathias, for no particular reason, has impulsively killed a man. Jamie isn’t happy about having a death penalty attached to this latest escapade but what’s a bro to do?
Mathias, wounded badly enough to need medical attention, obviously can’t go to an ER. Jamie, driving frantically through unfamiliar territory, spots a rural Georgia hospital.
Inside he overhears Dr. Rich praised by a nurse. As Rich ends his shift and leaves, Jamie follows.
He’s now a man with a plan: The doc can stitch up Mathias and then they can ride off to Mexico, their dream destination. Naturally, bodies will be left behind.
As the farmhouse becomes a battleground, shouldn’t “Survive” ramp up tension? Instead, as Rich searches for medical supplies and Mathias slowly, ever so slowly, declines and Jamie begins to go bonkers, pacing and suspense evaporate.
Screenwriter Matt Eskandari’s predictable plot abandons realism — along with any unexpected character revelations. There’s no shocking, jolting violence or queasy ick-making accidents.
As Mathias weakens and Jamie alternates between concern and impotent fury, one thing becomes all too clear: These are two beyond-boring brothers.