Taylor (Helenna Santos) and Angie (Alexandra Boylan) are best friends running a marketing startup out of an apartment, desperate for a lucrative win to keep the enterprise solvent. Approached by the developer of a new outdoor adventure game for the well heeled, a rugged scavenger hunt called At Your Own Risk, they are excited at the prospect of having a paying client.
It does give them pause when the client insists they do a “beta test” of the adventure. The client says they want to give them a solid sense of the experience to inform their marketing creativity and they are so hungry for the deal that they reluctantly agree.
It quickly becomes clear they’ve been brought to the desert under a false pretense. Their scavenger hunt becomes a battle not to win the account, but to stay alive.
Ferociously driven to succeed, they stubbornly continue even when it’s obvious they’ve been trolled into something without their consent. A GPS device is provided to ensure they can find the way back to their car, but they trudge on despite dead ends, red herrings, false clues, and empty water caches. Secrets that could end their friendship surface with the stress of being near death and under the watchful eyes of ever-present flying drones. They are not alone.
“…desert scavenger hunt becomes a battle not to win the account, but to stay alive…“
Director John K.D. Graham presents an interesting take on the survival game. It’s gratifying that the two leads are ambitious business-women toughing it out under the worst of circumstances. The compelling dynamics of crisis moments are played beautifully by the two leads.
One technical nitpick: the ladies are meant to be dangerously far from civilization and alone, but then also are always followed by a sophisticated drone. The flight battery of those platforms is good for 15 minutes: someone would always be nearby to collect the drone, so they were never really on their own (I know, nerds ruin everything).
The film is a little Black Mirror with a little Survivor, and some Hunger Games chiming in from the cheap seats. Curiously, the big reveal at the end is a phenomenon we’ve been talking about for some time, but it’s rolled out like a significant new insight. They are a little late to the party regarding relevant social commentary, but it’s an entertaining feature nonetheless and worth the watch for the personal drama between the main characters.
At Your Own Risk (2018) Directed by John K.D. Graham. Written by Andrew Boylan. Starring Helenna Santos, Alexandra Boylan, Jeff Schroeder.
7 out of 10