Plot: The shadow of nuclear war looms over the world, as tensions between the United States and Russia continue to escalate. In Sheffield, England, locals have been told to prepare and given some basic instructions on survival, but nothing could really prepare a society for such an experience. When the alarms sound, people rush to whatever safety they can manage, some try to grab a few last second supplies, while some just panic or shut down in the chaos. Sheffield suffers severe damage to buildings and infrastructure, not to mention countless dead in the rubble and nearly everyone hit with radiation of some degree. In the wake of the blast, pockets of survivors try to scrape by, some group together to share what little resources remain, while others keep a tight grip and refuse to aid anyone else. As even more people die by the minute, what will be left of Sheffield and can this society rebuild, at least to some degree?
Entertainment Value: A bleak, no nonsense look at nuclear conflict, Threads was a British made for tv movie that haunted audiences at the time and was shown all over the world. I appreciate the attempt at stark realism, using the limited resources to craft a documentary like experience, complete with narration and an intimate, in the crowd presence. A lot of movies have tried to capture that sense of realism, but few have nailed it and Threads is one of those exceptions. A good portion of the movie feels like a camera crew is on the ground in the middle of all this chaos, but when the film tries to lean on drama, that facade drops. I found some of the scripted dialogue to be rather weak and some of the performances are downright ham handed, which shatters that realism the movie wants to instill. The non verbal scenes or more simple exchanges are often excellent, such as the husband desperate to find water for his sick wife, but the more involved dramatic scenes are sometimes laughable. But when Threads gets it right, the atmosphere is dead on and conjures up quite a realistic feel. I do think time has softened Threads and some of its raw impact, but it remains a well crafted and certainly worthwhile movie. But if you come in expecting a super dark, soul burning experience, you might be let down.
No nakedness. As these people just want to survive, there’s not much monkey business afoot, or at least none is shown. There is some bloodshed, but it falls mostly into existing wounds, so it isn’t graphic in nature. I do love the scene where a doctor is hacking away on some poor soul with a handsaw, however. So we have the expected bruises and contusions from the early blast, then some radiation based skin issues, not pretty sights, but not that bad. The real darkness here comes not from violence or bloodshed, but mankind itself, the horrible creatures that we are. The dialogue is fine and well written for the most part, but aside from the grave narration, not much is all that memorable and the serious tone prevents much wackiness. But there is a conversation about cigarettes that if overheard under the right circumstances, could lead to a tragic misunderstanding. The few instances of camp add a point to this one, as well as the sci/fi inspired twist at the end, but this one keeps things serious and doesn’t play into the offbeat much at all.
Overall Insanity: 2/10