Indigenous (USA, 2014)

A group of travelers go to a forbidden jungle in this tense and partly-found footage film from Alastair Orr, the visionary behind House on Willow Street and Triggered.

Scott and his girlfriend Steph are invited to meet up with friends Elena, Trevor, and Charlie to a vacation in Panama. Upon their arrival, they are having the time of their lives. They spend the day at the hotel and at night, hit the local hotspots. It is also there they meet siblings Julio and Carmen, who offer to take them around the area to show them a good time and experience the beauty of the country. However, things soon begin to unravel.

When Scott learns of a place called Darien, which is a major jungle, they are warned by Julio never to go there. Julio tells them of a legend known as the Chupacabra, who is a creature who hides deep in the Darien jungle. However, unbeknownst to Julio, they convince Carmen to take them to the jungle. As the group heads to the jungle, Julio learns what has happened and he decides to head there to stop them. It soon becomes too late, but the group are deep in the jungle and finds themselves coming at odds with the rigors of the jungle as well as the myth known as the Chupacabra.

You have to appreciate Alastair Orr’s love of the horror genre. He loves using other horror films as influences for his works. While he wasn’t involved in the script writing process for this film, his vision is still there and it works out quite well. While his first two films had resemblances to Saw and Resident Evil, this one without a doubt brings to mind The Descent with a dash of Blair Witch Project.

One trope used in the film is we have a group of young college or post-college students involved in the terror. Zachary Soetenga’s Scott and Lindsey McKeon’s Steph are the cute next door neighbor couple type. Then we have Sofia Pernas’ Elena, a restauranteur who has an annoying boyfriend in Charlie, played by Jamie Anderson. Rounding out the cast is Pierson Fode’s Trevor, who finds his own romance of sorts with Carmen, a local who becomes their tour guide and is well played by Colombian actress Laura Penuela.

Juanxo Villaverde spends a majority of the film attempting to find the group and stop them before it’s too late and even going as far as reaching his uncle, a member of the military. Mark Steger makes the most of his screen time bringing the terrors as the Chupacabra. What’s great about the film’s terror here are they are more jump scares and with the use of smart phones, bring a found-footage vibe. The SFX team, led by David LeRoy Anderson (who also served as an executive producer) did a great job of bringing the Chupacabra to life. The final act is quite a surprise as it somewhat breaks the mold of horror tropes.

Indigenous may be viewed as a rip-off of The Descent and while it has elements inspired by that film, this film does offer a bit more than that. The finale especially breaks the typical tropes for the genre and was quite a surprise.

WFG RATING: B

Momentum Pictures presents a Lightning Entertainment production in association with Kilburn Media. Director: Alastair Orr. Producers: Mark Manuel and Ted O’Neal. Writer: Max Roberts. Cinematography: Brendan Barnes. Editing: Alastair Orr.

Cast: Zachary Soetenga, Lindsey McKeon, Sofia Pernas, Pierson Fode, Jamie Anderson, Juanxo Villaverde, Laura Penuela.

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