Surviving the Wild (2018)

Jon Voight, Jamie Kennedy, Vail Bloom, Aidan Cullen,
Following the untimely death of his grandpa Gus, thirteen-year-old Shaun disregards his parents' wishes and embarks upon a great journey into the wild with his dog Riley to spread his grandpa's ashes from a remote mountaintop.
  • 5.7 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Mark Hefti, Steven Paul, Writer:
  • Patrick Alessandrin, Director:
  • Producer:

All subtitles:


7 / 10

Just Couldn't Buy In Here

When 13-year-old Shaun's (Aidan Cullen) grandfather Gus (Jon Voight) dies, to whom he was very close, Shaun wants to spread his ashes on "Delilah's Peak", in the Kentucky hillsides. However, his parents Rachel and Kris (Vail Bloom and Jamie Kennedy) will have none of it.

Encouraged and guided by the spiritual and "physical presence" of Gus, Shaun decides to take the risky trek to "Delilah's Peak" himself, along with Gus's aging dog Riley. He'll lie to each parent, who are divorcing and living separately, that he's going away with the other.

Shaun will encounter all kinds of dangers on this journey as you can imagine. Predictably, the parents will eventually figure out what has happened, and so do you think they might call the police? Let's just say that's one of a number of moronic decisions and plot elements that the viewer is asked to swallow.

I thought this movie, which has some spiritual themes thrown in along the way, has its moments but it just all seems to get more preposterous as it continues. Sorry, I just couldn't buy in to all of this. At least the cinematography was gorgeous.

To note, on my DVD copy obtained at Redbox, there were only Spanish subtitles, but I was able to access English subtitles through my remote closed captions.

5 / 10

Not So Wild

Young Shaun (Aidan Cullen) with Riley his dog, lies and steals his deceased grandfather Gus' (John Voight) Urn- from his mother to spread ashes on a remote mountain. We see Gus almost every step of the way and only Shaun can see and hear him.

This seems to be a made-for-tv movie. It's okay, but I didn't have any feeling for Shaun or for Riley either and that should have happened. John Voight was okay as the deceased Gus with his words of wisdom and encouragement to Shaun from time to time. The trip to the mountain and what Shaun encounters during the journey was kind of tame to be honest, and oh, yes, two men in the woods and we are not sure what that was all about. No, no Deliverance but those scenes did come to mind. Hey, this is a family movie, but who or what were these two men is a mystery that was never explained.

Later the almost-divorced parents learn they had been duped by Shaun and go looking for him on that remote mountain. No real suspense or tension within this movie. Like I said: a made for tv movie, a walk in the park. Tame.

Notables: Jamie Kennedy as Kristopher, Shaun's father; Vail Bloom as Rachel, Shaun's mother; Derick Van Orden as Jebediah one of the men in the woods; and Matthew Davis as Eartle as one of the men in the woods.

The cinematography should have been better than it was. There were too many shots too up close to the fauna and not enough long shots of the scenery except for maybe one shot. There was a nice pastel sunset though.

A note of caution: Most everyone knows, by now, to never spread cremation ashes and to secure the URN in a safe place.

At the end, would it surprise you to know that Rachel says she thinks she did see Gus too? Hmmmm................ (5/10)

Violence:: Yes, but not much. Sex: No.Nudity: No.Humor: Much between Gus and Shaun.Language: Brief small stuff.Rating: C

5 / 10

A tiny bit of the magical Red River Gorge

It was great to see a tiny bit of Kentucky's beauty such as the Pallisades and the Red River Gorge. I liked the movie's premise and, of course Jon Voight, but the inconsistencies were tough to overcome. The camera work and editing left a lot to desire; flopping in and out of 4K, once I think they literally dropped the camera, and some amateur drone footage. However, the Gorge is a magical place, with the highest concentration of natural arches east of Utah's Arches NP, and as a Kentuckian who's backpacked this whole area for over 30 years I hung on for the views which were great to see on the screen.

7 / 10

Nice coming of age story set in beautiful scenery

Surviving the Wild (previously known as "Riley's Peak") is essentially a coming of age story. There is humor and emotion, as well as a little bit of language. It's a good movie for families with adolescent children.

It's a low budget movie but the cinematography is spectacular, showcasing terrific views around Kentucky. It was great seeing some of my favorite outdoor places utilized in the movie. Some locations I recognized were Natural Bridge and Cumberland Falls State Parks, the Kentucky River Palisades and the majestic Red River Gorge Geological Area. The state of Kentucky is prominent in the movie and there is even a brief appearance by Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin.

I was excited when I heard about the filming of this movie. I'm a fan of previous roles of Jon Voight and Jamie Kennedy, and I heard that Mr. Voight was very kind to people while in the area for filming.

You should give "Surviving the Wild" a watch!