REVIEW: Animal (2014)

animal

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2014, Chiller Films/Synthetic Cinema International/Flower Films

Director:
Brett Simmons
Producers:
Ember Truesdell
Chris Miller
Thommy Hutson
Andrew Gernhard
Colin Theys
Zack O’Brien
Writers:
Thommy Hutson
Catherine Trillo
Cinematography:
Scott Winig
Editing:
Brett Simmons

Cast:
Elizabeth Gillies (Mandy)
Keke Palmer (Alissa)
Jeremy Sumpter (Matt)
Paul Iacono (Sean)
Joey Lauren Adams (Vicky)
Amaury Nolasco (Douglas)
Thorsten Kaye (Carl)
Eve Jeffers (Barbara)
Parker Young (Jeff)

This film’s high selling point may seem to be the executive producing team of Drew Barrymore and Nancy Juvonen (aka Mrs. Jimmy Fallon). However, this is more than your average creature feature as it meshes well with the psychological thriller genre.

A group of friends head out to the woods for a hiking trip. They consist of Jeff, his girlfriend Mandy, Jeff’s step-sister Alissa, Alissa’s boyfriend Matt, and “fifth wheel” Sean. When they get lost, Jeff and Alissa bicker while the other three have to listen. That night, the five attempt to head back to their car when they hear a strange noise. They discover a deadly creature in the forest and they all attempt to escape. When they find a house in the woods, Jeff is sacrificed while the rest head to the house.

There, they find three people who let them in the house. Couple Vicky and Carl, along with Douglas, had faced the beast and had escaped until Douglas’ wife Barbara was caught and devoured by the deadly monster. As the group faces the threat of the bloodthirsty monster, tensions mount and rivalries form between the group members. The question that comes to mind is: Who will ultimately survive?

The film may seem like your average run-of-the-mill horror film but there is more to it then one might think. The screenwriting team of Thommy Hutson and Catherine Trillo crafted a story that melds the creature feature with the psychological thriller as the tensions that arise between the characters in an abandoned house in the middle of the woods causes at least one person towards the brink of insanity. Furthermore, secrets amongst certain characters are revealed and it is as they are intentional to bring the outcome of the film as a whole. All this proves that the title of the film has a double meaning.

The film is driven by the ensemble cast. As with most horror films, especially with the creature in the woods genre, a young cast is needed. Here, we have two former Nick stars (Keke Palmer, Elizabeth Gillies), a former Peter Pan (Jeremy Sumpter), a TV actor (Parker Young), and a relative newcomer (Paul Iacono). Add to the mix three veterans (Joey Lauren Adams, Thorsten Kaye, Amaury Nolasco) and a cameo appearance by a hop hop star turned actress (Eve) and you can see from their performances why Animal relates to both the creatures and the psyche of some of the characters involved as they all attempt to survive the wrath of the creature.

Kudos must go out to special effects creature artist Garry Tunnicliffe for creating the deadly creature the group must face. In this day of CGI effects, the producers wisely decided to go with practical effects of animatronics to unleash a creature that looks like a hybrid of Chris Walas’ 1980’s Fly design combined with a bit of Alien mixed in. It looks like some sort of bird-like zombie creature but still noteworthy nonetheless as CGI would have destroyed any credibility of the film.

Animal is not too bad of a film. If you see the film, look out for the “double meaning” of the film and ultimately, you definitely have a popcorn flick in your hands. Worth a rental.

WFG RATING: B

DVD

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