The Grey is the best survival horror movie since The Thing. That is saying a lot coming from me considering The Thing is my favorite movie of all time. The reason this movie is so effective is that the situations presented in the movie are literally the nightmare scenarios of anyone who has ever been on a plane. Crashing in the wilderness of Alaska is not really on my list of things to do in my life, that is why I don't fly to places in the middle of a frozen wasteland. Bear Grylls would even be shitting in his pants if he was thrust into this situation. The characters are presented with an almost lose-lose situation, either freeze to death, starve to death, or be eaten by wolves. Those are not exactly glamorous options to choose from. The great thing about the movie is that the characters are presented as real people, not stereotypical characters. In the beginning of the movie, it seems like the director was going to be going the stereotypical route then he changes his mind and makes his characters fully fleshed out human beings.I also helps when you have Liam Neeson to anchor your cast.
Liam Neeson, you are one magnificent bastard. He just dominates this movie in every way. This is the movie that really confirmed the fact that Neeson is one of the best actors in Hollywood, in my mind at least. Everything about his performance is spot on and you see his character's evolution as the movie goes on and its a sight to behold. He is ready to kill himself in the opening moments of the movie and you see as he then protects a group of his coworkers and then finds his will to fight and live by the end of the movie. He has the uncanny ability to make you feel for his character even though you know almost nothing about the character. He just does a great job of playing this broken man who is thrust into this hell-like situation and has to help others and really can't worry about himself. His performance is of the highest quality and he should be in contention for some of the major awards for 2012.
Joe Carnahan is the mastermind behind the whole movie and this was one of the best directing performances I have seen in a while. His direction outclassed most of the movies from 2011 with the exception of a small number of films. It is really hard to believe the guy that directed Smokin' Aces could have made a movie this heartfelt and tense. The movie works so well because there are no wasted scenes, everything that is in the movie serves a purpose. His use of sound is also phenomenal, just watch the plane crash scene in the movie and you will know what I mean. His use of quick motion, shadows, and sound really helps to build most of the tension in the movie. I also personally appreciate the realism shown in the movie. These characters are facing a pack of wolves in one of the harshest environments in the world and they act and react just like normal people would. There are no Hollywood "happy" moments in this movie and there is no cliched ending. The movie comes to a natural end and lets you make your own assumptions as to what follows the last few frames of the movie.
This is the first "must see" January movie since the debut of Cloverfield in my opinion. This is a movie that is worth watching for Neeson's performance alone. Joe Carnahan also gives a career defining directorial performance with this movie. Survival horror movies should strive to be more like this movie because of the way it effortlessly build tension and suspense. This is a 9/10 and you need to go see this movie right now.