SURVIVAL SKILLS

We open on a crackling VHS title sequence where our Narrator (Stacy Keach) introduces us to the movie, or, a police training video starring Jim (Vayu O’Donnell), a bright-eyed police cadet who is anxious to begin his life on the force. Good luck, Jim!

Jim is assigned a partner, the no-bullshit Allison (Ericka Kreutz), and when the newly paired team gets a domestic abuse call, they dutifully head out to investigate. They come to find Mark (Bradford Farwell) and Leah (Emily Chisholm) fighting, but when they both deny any violent acts occurred, Jim is struck by his inability to help in a meaningful way. Allison deals him some tough love, informing her perky partner that sometimes the law trumps morality. Sorry, Jim.

Overcome by duty and a yearning to do “good,” against the advice of both the Narrator and his partner, Jim begins to stray from police protocol in order to help this family. He goes so far as to convince their daughter, Lauren (Madeline Anderson), to go on tape about her father’s abuse, and persuades Leah to testify in court. But when Leah refuses to testify at the last minute, Jim is completely disillusioned. Luckily the Narrator reminds us that this is all too common in the life of a police officer. Poor Jim.

That night, Jim gets a call from Mark, telling him he’s going to harm Lauren and Leah. Jim rushes to find Mark, pursuing him down the highway — while the Narrator argues with him over his life choices. Jim finally catches up to Mark, who pulls over under a deserted overpass where they have a brutal fistfight. Blood is spilled in a dramatic climax resulting in both men paying the ultimate price. Nice try, Jim.

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