Hobbs (Jenny Agutter) enters a field one afternoon, suffering a strange feeling that something terrible is about to happen. Come the evening, she's still stood there waiting. Sure enough, a commercial aeroplane crashes into the field.

The emergency services race to the scene as the wreckage begins to explode, and only pilot Dave Keller (Robert Powell) makes it out alive.

After being discharged from hospital with minor cuts and acute amnesia surrounding the flight, Keller is intrigued by how he could possibly have survived a crash that wiped out the other 287 people on board.

His boss Slater (Ralph Cotterill) is more concerned with keeping Keller from revealing anything potentially incriminating about the flight to the local press (especially as it transpires that the airline's chairman was on board - and Keller's been shagging his wife!).

Keller, the police and the local onlookers struggle to come to terms with the gravity of the situation, the authorities struggling to cope with the sudden need to gracefully move 300 corpses from a barren field. The cataloguing of the dead while the local vicar (Joseph Cotton) blesses each cadaver individually is especially chilling in its frankness.

But things are not quite what they seem �

Opportunist would-be photographer Eddie is the first to receive a very unwelcome visitor while developing his illicit photographs of Keller and his lover. Shortly afterwards, a local fisherman's quiet afternoon takes a similarly unpleasant detour. Could it be supernatural elements at play?

It's only when Hobbs finally catches up with Keller and ominously tells him how she feels "somehow involved" with the crash, that he starts to see the bigger picture.

Hobbs invites Keller to visit her at her home in order to discover more truth about the mysterious crash. Initially disinterested, Keller takes up Hobbs' offer after suffering a few weird episodes himself - including his disastrous attempt at getting back behind the pilot's seat of a small private plane.

And so the truth begins to reveal itself as the ante is upped, when Hobbs asks Keller "Do you believe in life after death?" �

Filmed in Australia, THE SURVIVOR looks gorgeous. Outdoor locations are used to great effect and director David Hemmings (yes, Marc from DEEP RED) exhibits splendid command of the 2.35:1 cinematography.

Hemmings' handling of James Herbert's source novel material (adapted for the screen here by David Ambrose) is restrained and subtle, allowing this to slowly and steadily build into a quietly creepy treat that wisely keeps it's ambiguities going right up until the grim finale.

It's always a joy to see Powell in a serious role and, JESUS OF NAZARETH aside, this is his best role. Reserved yet human, and - when it's called for - incredibly vulnerable, he provides a strong lead that's easy to empathise with.

Agutter is hotter here than she was in AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, and I deny any hot-blooded male not to feel a kick in their pants when she goes loopy on Powell about an hour into proceedings.

The film is presented uncut in 2.35:1 anamorphic. It looks great, with natural colours and strong detail. Grain is minimal and, although some earlier scenes don't look terribly clean, the overall quality is remarkable.

The English 2.0 audio is equally great, offering a consistent and clear level of distortion-free playback throughout.

Animated menus include a scene-selection menu allowing access to the main feature via 16 chapters.

Extras include the original theatrical trailer (lovely, but giving a lot of plot away at 3 minutes in length). This is presented in 1.78:1 and in English mono.

We also get one page of text about Britfilms.TV and a weblink to their site.

The disc is defaulted to open with trailers for MALCOLM, STORM BOY and DOING TIME.

THE SURVIVOR is a reminder of when the British made subtle and effective ghost stories (even if they did choose to film them on foreign shores). It's also reminds us of what a great actor Powell used to be, how fit Agutter was in her prime, and how much of a loss Hemmings' passing was.


Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Britfilms TV
Region 2 - PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review