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Review: A Good Creature is Wasted in Animal

file_176983_0_shock-score-5.90x72Animal_PosterIn some respects, Animal is a cut above the usual Chiller fare. It boasts a much better pedigree. It’s executive produced by Drew Barrymore and her Flower Films production company. The creature design and effects are by Gary Tunnicliffe (Scream 4, My Bloody Valentine, Feast). The music is by tomandandy (The Hills Have Eyes, The Strangers). The cast is full of familiar faces including Jeremy Sumpter (Frailty, Excision), Joey Lauren Adams (Chasing Amy), and Amaury Nolasco (2 Fast 2 Furious, Transformers).

Unfortunately, in just about every other way it’s business as usual.

From start to finish, for about 80 minutes, nothing out of the ordinary happens. The action is confined to one location because the budget is miniscule. The one-dimensional characters behave like you expect them to and die in the order you expect them to. The creature is actually not just a dumb animal but is herding and hunting them. It’s so depressingly lazy.

After the opening credits we are right in the middle of a chase. Two couples are frantically running away from something in the woods. One of them doesn’t make it. Cut to two different couples and their fifth-wheel friend heading to a remote vacation spot. Two of them, siblings, used to go there with their family. Soon they are on foot, in the middle of nowhere, at night. They stumble upon the remains of the earlier victim and see the snorting, snarling creature that devoured her. The group makes a run for it after one of them is brutally murdered by the creature. They find a rundown old house and make it inside. The three survivors from the beginning just happen to be there. It’s here, the midsection, where Animal really lags and the wheels just spin and spin, killing time until the final confrontation. Characters bicker about whether to stay or run. Will help ever arrive? Who will distract it? Should they open the door for someone outside when the creature is out there?

During this time the creature is rarely glimpsed. It’s very dull. Accepting the fact that there’s no way in hell the dilapidated structure would ever keep the ferocious, hungry, and powerful creature out (at one point we see two or three small boards blocking an open doorway; you or I could get through that in seconds), what is actually a pretty damn cool, practical monster is wasted. Most of the attacks and killing take place just slightly off screen (even in the theatrical, not edited-for-television version). Not to mention that the most shocking kill doesn’t even involve it.

There’s not nearly enough creature action, and it isn’t because they try to keep it hidden for budgetary purposes. Chiller doesn’t seem willing to take any chances with their original movies, which is a shame. They keep churning out safe, predictable, tedious movies with very little variance in overall quality. In this instance that’s especially disappointing. Animal is a waste of a good, old-fashioned creature. 

  • J Jett

    this movie isn’t reinventing the wheel but it’s a reasonably
    enjoyable-ish movie. the creature design was pretty cool (it’s similar
    to FEAST’s creature), the acting from most of the cast was decent to
    good (especially Liz Gillies, Joey Lauren Adams & Paul Iacono who
    plays the group’s gay friend).

    Paul Doro, i’m not sure if you
    agree w/ me but i give this movie MAJOR high props for making it really
    difficult to tell who was going to survive. without spoiling anything,
    i was surprised at which character or characters survived at the end.
    the script/director did a good job at surprising me (and others over on
    the ANIMAL imdb board)!

    again, not an amazing movie but it was decent for the most part.

    • PMD2

      Joey Lauren Adams has like 2 lines. She’s given nothing to do save for look scared and makes no impression whatsoever. I would definitely not single her out as giving a good performance, though it’s not entirely her fault. And I didn’t find character deaths surprising or noteworthy. No props there.

      • dddddddddd

        I agree with @j_jett:disqus . Some of the characters deaths surprised me. I thought the film was enjoyable also. I thought that Keke and Liz were the best actors out of the whole film.

  • DustyAlaska

    I enjoyed the film, wasn’t as great as it could’ve been, but it was a good film, i agree that its potential was in a way wasted because they wouldnt take chances but it was fun to watch.

  • Bobby Price

    Total spot on review. While Syfy and the Asylum continue to be the Michael Bays of horror/scifi Chiller keeps creating these very bland oh so generic films that just seem like filler, they aren’t absolute dreck like the Asylum movies but you can tell something is holding these guys back or they just don’t give a crap and are totally going for a cash grab.