LIBERTY is a new thriller that has screened at film festivals with great success. An Animal Rights thriller that packs a punch. It’s one of those movies that everyone should watch and that manages to engage the viewer. Read our full Liberty movie review here!
LIBERTY is a new thriller that really packs a punch in terms of holding up a mirror to its viewer. From the very beginning, the main protagonist speaks directly to us and this continues. He’s on a mission and we’re right there with him as he’s making a documentary of sorts.
The movie has been screened at film festivals with great success and won several awards. To me, this is a movie everyone should watch and do their best to truly take in. It’s not trying to convince you of anything, but rather focusing on facts to help you relate. Of course, as an animal rights thriller, this movie was preaching to the choir with me.
Continue reading our Liberty movie review below. Find it on VOD from November 21, 2023.
Fighting back against injustice
In this animal rights or environmental thriller, we meet the idealistic park guide, Matt. He is a soft-spoken and very calm man, who cannot stand to see how human beings are mistreating Mother Nature. In particular, how animals are kept in captivity and constantly misused and mistreated for our entertainment.
That’s why he has decided to round up six strangers and place them in captivity. After putting them in a cage, he tapes it all in a documentary style and comments on their behavior exactly as you would see a zookeeper do. Word for word, you’ll recognize his commentary. Whether from Tiger King or PR material from Sea World or any Zoo.
The six human beings are of course hostages and go through all the stages of disbelief. From confusion, anger, and hostility to grief and despair. Matt is constantly commenting on their mental and physical breakdown as a documentarist. Comparing these captive humans to the wild animals struggling in captivity.
Matt may technically be an anti-hero, but he isn’t to me. Sure, he goes far (too far!), but it sure does get people’s attention. And he is always kind and calm with his captives. After all, he loves all Mother Earth’s creatures.
Nicholas Michael McGovern is brilliant
Nicholas Michael McGovern plays Matt and he is perfect. The character could so easily have been over the top and seemed crazy. Instead, Matt is a kind and considerate person, who goes to extremes but never wishes harm to anyone. Even though you wouldn’t blame him if he did.
Nicholas Michael McGovern blew my mind in Liberty. As did all the hostages, I must admit.
One of the characters who lives in the same area as Matt, and is his constant tormenter, is over-the-top stupid and hateful. It does get close to being too much, but then you realize that his type very much does exist. Usually getting in the way of everyone else truly feeling free. Maybe even voting against the freedom of others.
An Animal Rights thriller
Liberty is labeled as both an environmentalist and an animal rights thriller. Both are equally accurate. Though the latter is more on the nose for this particular story. These subgenres are not unlike the “Eco Horror”-movies we’ve been seeing. Or those with a social commentary at the heart of its plot.
Some would call these “elevated horror” or “elevated thriller” movies. To me, they do exactly what genre movies have always done; Force the viewer to acknowledge something that’s wrong with our world today.
Whether we’re talking zombie movies – often the result of a military or Big Pharma experiment gone wrong – or extreme weather horror movies – usually the result of the very real climate changes we’re in the midst of – it mirror elements of what we’re seeing in the real world.
CURIOUS ABOUT ECO HORROR?
With Liberty, someone makes the bold and extreme decision to prove their point. And they do succeed as far as I’m concerned. Of course, I’m an animal lover (it’s been in my author bio since day one) so this film is preaching to the choir with me. Still, I truly hope it will reach beyond this as well.
If nothing else, surely anyone who has ever watched a serial killer movie (or true crime documentary) can recognize that cruelty to animals is usually a first step for psychopaths.
Watch Liberty on VOD
Phil De Witte is the writer and director of Liberty. This is his first fiction feature film and I am in awe of what he has created. Again, the whole point of this movie resonates with me, so I’m obviously the perfect audience. Still, the way this story progresses and delivers its message is as elegant as it is efficient.
A quote from the press material states that this movie “deftly walks the line between Thoreau and Stephen King” which is a surprisingly accurate description. While the obvious theme of Liberty is animal rights, the core of it is freedom for all of us. Drawing parallels between animal rights and human rights.
Actual freedom – as in bodily autonomy and not “just” freedom of speech, which too often means freedom to spew hate – is at the core of this story. It may feel a bit slow at times, but that is very much the point. In fact, it’s directly addressed by “Matt” in the movie. If you love animals (and enjoy a solid thriller), you must watch this movie!
Liberty is out on VOD from November 21, 2023.
Director: Phil De Witte
Writer: Phil De Witte
Stars: Nicholas Michael McGovern, Alice Barrett, Samantha Smart, Andrea McKinnon, Jonathan Kirkland, Denny Dale Bess, Olan Montgomery, Caroline Duncan, Bristol Pomeroy, Shane Connery Volk, Val Duncan, Geoff Shangh
In the environmental thriller Liberty, an idealistic park guide holds six strangers captive, treating them like caged animals, to deliver his chilling message of freedom to the world. As his hostages run the gamut from confusion and disbelief to anger and hostility to grief and despair, our anti-hero compares their mental and physical breakdown to those of wild animals struggling in captivity.