Movie Review: How to Save Us (2014)


Jason Trost is endlessly fascinating; both as a person and as a filmmaker. Known for his iconic (used for necessity not as a fashion statement) eye patch and smoldering good looks, Trost is a member of a somewhat cinematic dynasty.  His brother Brandon Trost is an accomplished cinematographer, their sister Sarah Trost, is a costume and production design powerhouse, and their father Ron Trost is a master of special effects. JTRO (as many know him thanks to his debut film The FP) is a writer, director, actor, and one of the most passionate people working today. No two JTRO films are the same, and there’s something in his filmography for everyone. Whether it be DDR-style turf wars with The FP, an inverted take on comic book films with All Superheroes Must Die, or the biting commentary of reality television with Wet and Reckless, Trost is a man of many talents with a wild imagination. Now into his fourth feature film, How To Save Us is a post-apocalyptic ghost film dripping with originality while respectfully paying homage to the ghost films of yesteryear.

How To Save Us follows Brian Everett (Jason Trost) trekking alone through the dystopian leftovers of society after his younger brother Sam (Coy Jandreau) goes missing on the island of Tasmania during the middle of a mysterious quarantine. Brian is forced to traverse across enemy lines to save his brother from an army of ghosts, by following Sam’s rules of survival. Unaware of the cause for this quarantine, Brian finds himself walking through a mostly abandoned wasteland filled with memories of what once was. Trost’s direction paired with his cinematographer Phil Miller, have crafted a depressing (and sometimes horrific) alternate world. Cities look empty, family homes abandoned, and the gray color-scheme acts as a constant reminder of the bleakness of this new reality. Our “ghosts” are vengeful, often disrupting the stark and serene surroundings of our protagonist. In order to stay safe, Brian must cover himself in human ash so the ghosts cannot see or smell him. These “ghosts” aren’t just angry; they’re manipulative, predatory, and Brian will do everything he can to protect himself to save his missing brother. If you enjoy the video game “The Last of Us,” this is a film that will be right up your alley.

Trost proved that he can do comedy thanks to The FP and Wet and Reckless, and he can cater to the fankid in all of us with All Superheroes Must Die, but Trost has really created something special with How To Save Us. It’s evident that Trost gave it his all in every aspect of this film, acting especially. Horror fans should recognize Trost from his own filmography as well as playing Hamilton in Hatchet III, but his performance as Brian is one of my favorite male performances of recent memory. There’s something so pure and authentic about his characterization, and it proves that Trost is so much more than just one-liners before dance battles. Once again, Jason Trost takes a budget most directors would blow their nose with and delivers a product of better quality than most films that make it to the theater. How To Save Us is haunting, heartbreaking, and at times, horrifying. A stunning score, gorgeous cinematography, powerful storytelling, and a dynamic lead performance all combine to make one of the best pieces of independent cinema of the year. How To Save Us will hit a limited run on June 5th, 2015 and VOD shortly after.

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