"A bear kills because it's defensive. A lion kills because it's hungry. Man's the only animal that kills because it's fun." That chilling line is spoken in the trailer for the 2014 horror flick Preservation , and it pretty much sums up why you don't want to go hunting in a horror flick. Unfortunately, the characters in Preservation aren't as aware as the audience is of the danger lurking ahead. The film follows a couple, Wit (Wrenn Schmidt) and Mike (Aaron Stanton) who go on a "bonding" trip to a hunting preservation. Tagging along — much to the displeasure of Wit — is Mike's brother Sean (Orange is the New Black's Pablo Schreiber), a man suffering from PTSD after coming home from battle. The hunting trip, which was never particularly safe to begin with (it starts off with the gang ignoring signs of a closed preserve and veering off the hunting trail, proving immediately that Mike wasn't a Boy Scout) takes a turn for the worse when a group of maniacal hunters begin preying on the trio.
Naturally, this story is cray, but is it cray enough to based on reality? While hunting accidents happen, there doesn't seem to be any reported cases of people physically hunting down their fellow man on a hunter's preserve — so yeah, you can sleep soundly at night knowing this movie probably isn't based on any true stories.
But! That's not to say that this film wasn't inspired by something — though there's no confirmation from the filmmakers about this, it does seem that the film is largely inspired by a literary classic, the short story The Most Dangerous Game. The story, which was written by Richard Connell and first published in 1924, tells the story of a hunter who arrives on an island where the wealthy occupant hunts down human beings. The big-game hunter must elude his captor for three days in order to be set free from the island — something that no other person has done before.
The Most Dangerous Game's chilling concept — man hunting man for sport — is often seen in horror, not to mention action films like The Hunger Games and the gruesome Battle Royale (both of which feature children hunting down one another so they can be the final survivor in a game created by a totalitarian regime). Perhaps the most mainstream example in horror specifically is in the horror film Hostel, which featured wealthy individuals paying to torture and kill tourists. Though not confirmed, it does appear that Hostel makes a nod to the short story with its inclusion of hunting dogs, which appear in The Most Dangerous Game and are referenced in the work's alternate title, The Hounds of Zaroff.
Preservation may borrow from The Most Dangerous Game, particularly in the hunting aspect of the work, but the big ideas of the film could be vastly different — while Connell's work criticized big-game hunting, it seems like Preservation is here to simply scare the crap out of us.
And hey, that's perfectly fine — from the trailer alone, it seems like it definitely succeeds: