Story: Rich (Chad Michael Murray) has fallen on hard times, after making some poor decisions and landing his family in financial turmoil. He has moved back in with his parents, which his father Frank (Bruce Willis) is quite displeased about. The two have a lot of tension, but elsewhere, more trouble is headed their way. A gas station stop turns violent when the unstable Jamie (Shea Buckner) shoots a woman and the station clerk, while his brother Matthias (Tyler Jon Olson) suffers a gunshot wound in the chaos. As he begins to bleed out, Matthias needs to find medical care and as hospitals are not an option, the brothers seek out Rich at home. When the two break in and hold the family hostage, how will this tense situation work out?
Entertainment Value: Survive the Night is one of the direct to video movies built around Bruce Willis and like most of its peers, this winds up as a run of the mill, forgettable picture. I do think this has a slightly better narrative than some of Willis’ work from this time period, but the movie never builds much and leaves little to no impression. The home invasion concept at least has some potential, more than the generic action movies Willis made around this time, but the script is weak and it makes a lot of bad choices in twists and turns. I don’t expect tight logic in this kind of movie, but there is a constant flow of massive logic leaps and veering off to allow cheap set pieces to unfold, so there’s little tension and I was never that drawn in here. The action scenes are sparse and rather low impact, like a light scuffle or a low speed chase, so the home invasion drama elements carry Survive the Night, even though they’re rather mediocre as well. I didn’t care for this one, but if you’re a fan of Willis or Chad Michael Murray, perhaps you’ll find more to like with Survive the Night.
I’ve seen Chad Michael Murray in a number of these direct to video movies and while he is usually passable, I’ve rarely been impressed with his work. I’d say he is the highlight here, as he puts in solid work and is able to make the material work better than it should at times, though that might be saying more about the script than Murray’s performance. He shows some emotion and plays off his costars well, so for what he has to work with, this is a solid turn. I think his fans will appreciate this one, even if the rest of the movie doesn’t dazzle. Bruce Willis has a good sized role here, unlike some of his other direct to video roles, but he phones in his effort. Willis has some moments where he shows some grit, but for the most part, this feels like going through the motions. But as I said, if you’re a big fan of Willis, you might enjoy this one more. The cast also includes Shea Buckner, Lydia Hull, Tyler Jon Olson, Sara Lynn Holbrook, and Riley Wolfe Rach.