By Seth Lukas Hynes
Starring Guillaume Laurin, Réal Bossé and Marie-Evelyne Lessard
The Decline is a harrowing, masterfully-paced French-Canadian thriller about a survivalist retreat that turns into a deadly fight for survival.
First-time director Patrice Laliberté delivers a near-flawless subtle escalation of dread.
The preppers staying at Alain’s (Réal Bossé) survivalist camp have fantastic chemistry, but small squabbles and domineering or secretive moments from Alain seed unease within the group.
The film generates a bitter sense of irony: Alain praises his guests as “lucid citizens”, and wants to teach them how to survive in the event of societal collapse, but when an accident spirals out of control into fear and desperation, the camp becomes a collapse in microcosm.
Alain is an antagonist of fascinating nuance: he is an eloquent, even humble leader, and while he is coldly pragmatic and determined to protect the refuge he has built, he is genuinely devastated with the growing deaths on his land.
The landscape is stark and perilous, and the unglamorous violence conveys short but intense struggle. The narrative also has a grimly gratifying transition from a quest for survival to a quest for justice.
The Decline is a riveting, remarkably efficient thriller, and is available for streaming on Netflix.