While I applaud SOS: Survive or Sacrifice as being a major debut for a Russian filmmaker, it has the air of “rich friends in high places” or perhaps “Cyprian Tourism Commission.” Beautiful sweeping drone shots of the Cyprian countryside and the sea are mashed up with hasty green screen effects making the actors in the hot air balloon seem embarrassingly out of place. The performances are perfectly acceptable, but fall flat when bolstered by a minimally interesting script. A “sister reunion” movie leaves these sisters with about 10 minutes of screentime together and no real growth or change to their troubled relationship.
Two sisters, Kate (Jeannine Kaspar) and Liz (Kseniya Pinch) are trying to repair their strained relationship on a trip to Cyprus. Their battling attitudes and priorities cause tension right out the gate, especially as Liz leaves her passport behind. After a flustered and infuriated check in to the hotel, Liz passes out on the bed and Kate decides to go out and experience Cyprus nightlife. While there she meets a beautiful woman, Myrianthy (Marianna Rossett) who convinces her to get out on the dance floor. Kate is quickly swept up in the music, the drink, and the lights – and before she knows it she’s agreed to go on an adventure with three total strangers. By the next day, she regrets her reckless decision, as a hot air balloon excursion leads to life-changing circumstances.
I don’t know about you, but that premise alone gives me Sharknado-level B-movie vibes. Add to this a completely unnecessary plot line with a totally out of place William Baldwin and you’ve got the B-list celebrity star power to match. Not only does Baldwin’s character, “Jack,” absolutely drip with almost villainous levels of sleaze, he truly adds and takes away nothing from the plot of the film. His role, even when his true motives are revealed, is so insignificant to the major plot of the story that I wish it had been left on the cutting room floor. It’s unfortunate to feel like his performance – through no fault of his own – is played for nothing more than low-grade celebrity gravitas, adding legitimacy to a film without it.
If only the female-driven SOS: Survive or Sacrifice had any air of feminism around it, but ultimately it ends up more hot air than substance. Using the often conveniently fluid sexuality of women-in-film as a ploy – allowing them to get the drunken guys on their side but also share immense amounts of sexual tension – is far too on the nose and misogynistic to be any fun at all. If Kate and Myrianthy were empowered and self aware I would cheer their strategy. Instead it’s played to the male gaze – which there is plenty of in this film. I’m sorry — I may not be any kind of survivalist, but I can guarantee you if I’m turning a scrap of fabric into a tourniquet, I’m ripping strips of fabric off — not removing my whole shirt. By the end of the movie, you can guess exactly how much clothing these desperate women are still wearing. A pretty picture for some, but too vulnerable and exploitative for me. All in all, SOS: Survive or Sacrifice should have stayed on the ground.
3 out of 10