As host of his own hit TV series, 'MAN VS', Doug Woods is forced to fend for himself for five days in remote locations with no crew, food, or water, only the cameras he carries on his back to film his experiences. Doug's in the remote woods for a routine episode, until he's awoken by an earth-shaking crash. Things get weirder as it becomes clear Doug isn't alone. Someone or something is watching him. MAN VS is a gripping 'found footage' thriller about one man's extraordinary desire to survive at all costs.
In the late 90’s/early 2000’s reality TV exploded in popularity with the likes of Big Brother and Survivor. These titans of the genre then spawned an endless list of(usually cheaply made) imitators. Man Vs. follows the making of one such(made up) programme called Woods Vs.
Doug Woods (Chris Diamantopoulos)is the host of the survival show, in which he is dropped in the middle of remote locations for a period of 5 days, with only a back pack full of nick knacks and an array of cameras. He then films himself “surviving” the wilderness by building fires, hunting etc…
After saying goodbye to his wife and daughter, Doug and his crew set off to their latest location, Northern Ontario. Once dropped off, Doug films himself making a fire using the bottom of a can, making shelter and explaining to the audience how to make a figure 4 trap to kill rabbits and things.
Once he settles down for the night, his sleep is interrupted by a huge, unnatural crashing sound. From here things predictably start to go awry for Doug. Fires start to be extinguished, his equipment starts to be sabotaged and the supposedly fearless Doug starts to get worried.
Obviously from here, the story follows Doug trying to get to safety, while unravelling the mystery of the mysterious crash.
Man Vs. is directed by Canadian Adam Massey, who also co wrote the script. He uses a mixture of found footage style Go Pro camera shots and traditional film making to tell his story. His directing is tight, and some of the shots of the wilderness are beautiful. Massey’s use of long range vantage shots, and low first person shots well to give there impression that Doug is not alone.
One criticism i would give though, is that he could have done more to give the impression of Dougs isolation. Kind of like Greg McLean did with Wolf Creek.
The film only consists of nine speaking characters, with Chris Diamantopoulos on screen alone for the vast majority of the movie. He handles the pressure well, putting in a solid performance. The way he switches from “presenter mode”, to talking to his absent crew to talking to him self is very impressive. I also liked the way his hard unflappable image is slowly chipped away as thee story unfolds and the weirdness intensifies.
Before starting the film, i didn't know what to expect as the title didn't really give anything away. Once i starts watching though, i couldn't stop. This isn't a balls to the wall, all action horror film, but the slow burning storyline kept me hooked until the last act. The way the director managed to achieve this using only sound effects and solid acting is impressive.
I did roll my eyes a bit once the mysteries revealed, and I'm sure a lot of people will feel that they have seen the story before, though i feel that Man Vs. has enough unique features to allow it to stand as its own film.
Another negative is the relatively poor CGI effects. I wasn't expecting Michael Bay-esque blockbuster effects, but Man Vs’s CGI was bordering on comical.
To wrap up, this is a very well made, entertaining sci-fi/horror. The acting is solid and the cinematography is smart, but they are let down by the unoriginal aspects of the story and shoddy CGI. But to make a film that looks this good on such a low budget is a credit to the director.