Sunday, March 29, 2015

Film Review: Animal (2014)

Animal (Review)
United States/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...severe lack of ambition gives us a bland and generic experience."

A group of friends enter the woods for a weekend vacation, but find themselves hunted by a vicious creature...

Animal is a very straightforward and cliché creature-feature -- what can you really expect from a film generically titled Animal, anyway? A group of cardboard characters enter the woods, deliver some obnoxious jokes, then stumble upon a horribly mutilated body. The group are hunted by an unidentified creature, which corners them in a cabin in the woods. There, this vacationing group meets up with another trio of survivors. At this point, it kind of follows the same formula: try to escape, someone dies, try to help, someone dies, and so on. It ends like almost every other horror film in existence.

Animal feels like a very half-assed film. From the generic story to the cliché characters, it doesn't feel like there was much of an effort. It treads very familiar territory and refuses to even try to be original. Lack of originality aside, the film is also lacking in horror. There are a few decent jump-scares and some bloody scenes, but nothing really stands out. Most of the jump-scares are random and ineffective. The gore is usually the same for each kill, too -- thinking back, most of the violence is off-screen with a few gallons splashed at the camera for good measure. Fortunately, there are a few exciting and thrilling sequences here, like the chase scenes, that keep this from being a complete waste of time. It's not much, but it's something.

Elizabeth Gillies is good, she captures the irritable character well; she captures the horror well, too. Keke Palmer is okay, although she mostly feels bland. In fact, most of the acting is simply okay -- nothing terrible and nothing great. The cinematography and music are average, I suppose -- again, nothing really stood out as bad or good. Director Brett Simmons plays it safe and pieces together a simple horror film; ultimately, his severe lack of ambition gives us a bland and generic experience. However, Simmons shouldn't have to shoulder all of the blame, the generic "safe" writing is equally responsible.

Overall, Animal is a mediocre film. It's not necessarily bad, I've seen much worse, but it's not good, either. Aside from the film's lack of ambition and originality, you get an unfortunately tamed and safe creature film. There's some excitement to be had and the "short runtime-moderate pacing" combo makes this a decent time killer, but it's really not something worth seeking. There are much better creature-features out there. This is worth a stream or cheap rental at most.

Score: 4/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore.

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