In a world where hybrid comedies are quickly becoming a genre all its own, it’s paramount that you stand out among the rest. With heavyweights such as Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright giving us clever, blended storylines combining horror, science fiction and comedy with what seems to be effortless execution, it’s hard to live up to the bar that has been set. And where movies like “Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil” live up to the standard, “SOS: Save Our Skins” literally reaches for the stars, but just misses the mark.
Ben and Stephen, two British nerds in New York City for a comic book convention, wake up to a city and likewise a world completely void of people. In a strange new world, this dim-witted duo go out in search of others, and ultimately, an explanation as to what is happening. Along the way they encounter strange people, stranger monsters, psychopaths and doppelgangers. Eventually, they receive the answers they have been searching for. But the journey might be far from over.
Written by Chris Hayward and Nat Saunders, “Save Our Skins” was originally developed as a webseries and eventually strung together as a movie for television. Starring the writers Hayward and Saunders themselves, it has been picked up by both BiteTV in Canada and FEARnet in the United States. It has won several awards, including the Crystal Palace International Film Festival and Raindance Web Festival. Considering these facts, I recommend making an opinion for yourself of course. But what I have gathered by watching “SOS” is a movie that is made by two well-meaning comedians who try far too hard to recreate the witty, sharp films of the horror comedies that has come before it. It’s completely recognizable. Two British buffoons are in the middle of an apocalypse, and while one is intent on finding out what happened and surviving, the other one where’s funny t-shirts, is lazy as hell, completely fixated on himself, and seems completely unaffected by the world around him and the imminent danger it entails. Even after being chased by monsters and nearly dying by a maniac cannibal, all he’s concerned about it showing off his extensive pop culture references, watching television, and getting laid. Does this pair ring any bells? The difference between him and the other character that comes to mind is that where as Nick Frost’s “Shaun of the Dead’s” Ed and Nat Saunders’s Ben is that where as Frost has a charm to his dimwit, Saunder’s is irredeemable and unlikeable. Even when he decides to try and save his friend, it isn’t believable. It seems to stem from a lack of other option now that his friend Stephen, played by Chris Hayward, has gone off without him and Ben needs someone to leech off of. Also, there are several fat jokes throughout, which since Saunders is not fat makes no sense. At first, you would think that Saunders had simply been miscast as a Frost type, but when you realize he wrote the part, it is even more baffling.
Beyond the lack of charm is the lack of payout. We go too far with nothing happening. They look around and find nothing for too long, giving you so many false scares it becomes predictable. Monsters are seen, but never quite explained, being given a vague misdiagnosis at the very end of the film that they are harmless. It is discovered that where everyone has gone is an alien spacecraft, brought by an intergalactic guardianship that is protecting the human race from an imminent asteroid set to decimate the entire planet. The reveal of this is both too far into the movie and then rushed so fast there is practically no detail. In short, everything either is beaten to death or glossed over. One of the things most overdone is the toilet humor. For some reason, Ben is constantly eating and therefore constantly going to the bathroom. I suppose that it’s meant to be funny. Also, one of the most heated arguments between the two main characters punctuates each sentence with a vomiting fit brought on by food poisoning. The conversation seems to go on forever, once again beating a dead horse, and although it is initially amusing, it becomes flat. Standouts of the movie are not without their appearances, though. Tom Bolton as the creepy cannibal Sven is on-point. His quiet and determined energy sends chills up the spine, and the gag regarding his age and speed is one of the few times I genuinely laughed. Hannah Spear is the psychotic and eventual third party of the pair simply called “Kill,” due to the fact that her vocabulary is mostly encompassed by this single word and Ben quickly develops an interest in the insane yet attractive young woman. Each appearance by Spear is both funny and engaging, easily becoming the best part of the film.
Overall, I still stand by the fact that you should watch this film for itself. Clearly, there is an audience and a type of personality that enjoys it, as its success is quite apparent and building. It simply is not my cup of tea. The concept is great, just not executed in my opinion, but I believe in everyone developingntheir own. Hopefully, Saunders and Hayward continue to refine their talents and hit a home run somewhere in the near future.