Survivalist films are a very interesting genre because they hold the potential to go in so many different directions. Drama, dystopia, post-apocalyptic, cautionary tale, horror, or psychological thriller, survivalist films never fail to remind us that desperate, frightened people are experts at making poor decisions, and that calamity is guaranteed to bring out the very worst in people. Lord of the Flies is absolutely no exception. Based on the best-selling novel by William Golding, Lord of the Flies is firmly a psychological thriller, with a hearty helping of toxic masculinity to guide it along.
When a plane carrying 24 military school cadets crashes on a deserted island, and the only adult, their pilot, is seriously injured, the situation quickly becomes a matter of survival of the fittest, which in this case, means the eldest of the group. While older boys Ralph (Balthazar Getty) and Jack (Chris Furrh) are both willing to take up the mantle of leadership, they have very different agendas. Ralph wants to keep order and do everything to ensure that the group survives however long it takes to be rescued, while Jack merely wants to assert dominance and build a team of hunters.
Though Ralph is initially declared their leader, tensions rise when it becomes clear that Jack and his faction care more about displays of violence and hunting (food, and predators both real and imaginary) than in keeping order. When Ralph and Jack split, so do the boys following them, who are then forced to pick sides, many of them choosing to align themselves with Jack. Though Ralph is respected and trusted, as with most situations involving boys and men, the group at large feels more comfortable following he who is more aggressive, albeit less competent.
As the boys in Jack’s group fall deeper into savage brutality, they lose all sense of self and become increasingly violent and superstitious, paying homage and offering sacrifices to a fictitious monster, and turning on one another at the slightest provocation. Eventually including murder, first accidental, then intentional, the boys become less detached to the idea of community and become more like crabs in a barrel. As Ralph fights to stay alive in this cult-like atmosphere, we get a sobering look at what happens when young men unlearn their schooling, manners, civility, and empathy, and yet retain every bit of their toxic masculinity while gaining mob mentality to boot.
This adaptation of Lord of the Flies, will differing slightly from the novel, has the same core story, and the same end result. It also has the same lesson: When we lose our humanity, we become the monsters which we fear.
I give this one 4 stars.