As always, a largely spoiler free short review of cool hidden gems available for your streaming entertainment. The Decline (original title: Jusqu’au déclin) is the first French-Canadian production from Netflix. Six strangers sign up for intense survivalist training at a remote encampment run by prepper and internet personality Alain. All come from various walks of life, but share that impending sense of doom that everyone seems a lot more understanding of nowadays. Given our current social climate, The Decline pushes it’s fair share of buttons.
Antione is a family man and amateur survival enthusiast. He regularly drills his family on the finer points of “the bugout” so they are prepared WSHTF. After a last minute cancellation leaves a spot open in his survivalist-sensei’s exclusive training course, Antione drops everything and drives out to the remote camp to prepare to be an A-Class Prepper. Alain (played by Réal Bossé) is a charismatic, if not strictly pragmatic, outdoorsman who wishes to pass along his vast knowledge of living off the land for when society inevitably crumbles. Alain owns 500 acres of remote forestland miles away from anything, the perfect place to live a protected and secluded life…and also the perfect place for someone to get away with murder. The cast was solid and the acting straight forward and direct. It was almost like watching a documentary on the Canadian wilds rather than a movie. This approach gave it a gritty tension I enjoyed and left me primed to be caught off guard when things started to go off the rails.
Without ruining the many escalations this movie went through to get to the end, I’ll just say the story leapt from The Great Outdoors to Ten Little Indians pretty quick. Director Patrice Laliberté did an amazing job of avoiding too much cheap sensationalism and kept the movie tight and well grounded in reality. I found that the parts that did need to leap off the screen did so with so much more impact than if everything had been blowing up right and left like a Michael Bay film. Unless you are heavy into French film, you won’t recognize the cast, but they were well placed and all put in amazing performances. I don’t want to call out anyone individually because that might spoil who wins and who loses too easily.
I highly recommend The Decline for your viewing pleasure. I’m surprised it took me this long to watch it since it was so good, but I just heard next to nothing about it online. To those of you that speak traditional French, I hope the Quebec French doesn’t put you off too much. For the English version, all of the original cast dubbed their own dialogue to ensure that the English accent of Francophone Quebecers would be accurately represented. I had a great time watching it even if it was difficult to catch everything the first time through (that’s what pause and rewind are for!).