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So, like, whatever happened to good, old-fashioned, practical effects-based “creature features,” anyway?

That’s a question I find myself asking (to myself, I admit) every once in awhile, that’s for sure, but I won’t be doing it anymore after last night.

Why is that? Because last night I finally got around to checking out director Brett Simmons’ 2014 indie horror effort Animal on Netflix, and it proved to me that the genre I thought I was missing is, in fact, very much alive and well.

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There’s nothing too terribly complicated on offer here, sure, but that’s a good thing — screenwriters Thommy Hutson and Catherine Trillo seem to have a definite checklist they’re working from, and as far as I’m concerned there’s absolutely no shame in that as long as you’re able to get all the boxes ticked off, which they most assuredly do with their story about a big ol’ group of friends who find their weekend getaway plans going awry, with the end result being that they’re all stranded in an abandoned cabin in the deep, dark woods while being hunted by a savage and bloodthirsty creature.

Sure, there’s a little more to it than that, but it’s nothing you wouldn’t expect — their desperate “game of survival” forces certain uncomfortable truths about most of them to come to the forefront and all that, but that’s just window dressing : what we’re really in this for above all other concerns is the body count. and damn if we don’t get a nice one.

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Other solid pluses : the cast is a veritable “who’s who” of never-quite-famous genre stars (Joey Lauren Adams, Paul Iacono, Amaury Nolasco, Jeremy Sumpter, and Eve — no, I’m not forgetting her last name) with some up-and-coming “scream queens of the future” mixed in (Keke Palmer and the gorgeous Elizabeth Gillies — both of whom can shriek well enough to curdle your blood), the sets are pleasingly authentic, Simmons’ direction is unobtrusive and formulaic in the best possible “old-school” manner, and yeah, damn right — the creature itself is balls-out awesome. What more do you want — or really even need — than that?

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If your answer to that query is a loud and proud “nothing!,” then Animal is the movie for you, my friends. This was distributed under the auspices of Chiller Films, who seem to be “nailing it” more often than not when it comes to fun, highly competent genre fare, and while Drew Barrymore’s executive producer’s credit may be little (if, in fact, anything) more than polite lip service for all I know, I admit that I was still impressed enough to see her involved with this project on at any level. It apparently got some limited theatrical play on the two coasts, but by and large it’s been consigned to home viewing platforms, and ya know, I must admit, in this particular case that somehow feels inherently right, as well.

I’m not ready to pull out all the stops and call this one a modern classic or anything, but it definitely has a classic look, feel, and mood to it, and that’s more than enough for me to give it a highly enthusiastic recommendation — so what the hell are you waiting for? Quit it with your dawdling, get plenty of popcorn ready, turn off the lights,  plant your ass down on the couch, and watch it right now! Yes, that’s an order!

 

Comments
  1. trashfilmguru (Ryan C.) says:

    Reblogged this on Through the Shattered Lens.

  2. Victor De Leon says:

    I think I dug the monster but not much else, if I recall. Don’t remember if I reviewed this, lol. Looks so damn familiar. Gotta check. Like the review, man!

    • trashfilmguru (Ryan C.) says:

      I know ow it goes — eventually you review so many movies you can’t remember if you did one or not!

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