Saturday, April 18, 2015

Animal (2014)

Animal is a 2014 movie about a bunch of kids in the woods getting chased by an animal. Oh wait, no it isn't. It's about a bunch of kids in the woods getting chased by some kind of horrific unexplained abomination of mankind and nature alike. Great false advertising, guys!

Director: Brett Simmons
Starring: Keke Palmer, Jeremy Sumpter, Elizabeth Gillies

Co-written with Michelle.

We start this off with a bunch of annoying idiots in a car going for a hiking trip. You might be saying, hey there Cinema Freaks, why disparage these kindred souls so harshly right out of the gate? You never know. They could be upstanding, fine youths! Give them a chance, at least the morsel of a chance!

Well, oddly cultured sounding contrarian strawman that I just made up, I'll give you an example of what this movie thinks is appropriate to introduce us to the characters with – this one gay guy, Sean, puts his headphones on, music blaring full blast, and the others have to shout at the top of their lungs to talk to him. Because I guess this movie thinks normal human beings wouldn't just turn off the fucking music.

Sigh. I miss Rest Stop 2's idea of what a road trip looks like - you know, riding in two separate cars and the one guy playing with dinosaur toys on the dashboard. That's still better than this.

There's also Alissa and Matt Рa fairly new couple I gather, who spend most of their time spouting hollow clich̩ jokes about gender and how girls don't usually like to go camping. Wonderful, I guess we're operating in the 1950s mentality again, like sadly a lot of these movies seem to. Alissa is also played by former Disney star Keke Palmer, and I really think this movie would be better if it had more Disney-style random song and dance break-outs.

"How did you end up in this movie if you used to be a Disney star?"
"Hey, a job's a job!"

Then they get lost and the brother and sister in the group have a huge shouting match about getting lost. Instead of actually just turning around and going back the way they came, they stand in one place and shout about it until the sun goes down. You guys truly are the greatest at hiking. I'm glad we trusted you to keep the spirit of the American adventurer alive. Oh wait, we never did that. Whew!

"Anybody else tired of these forced scenes at the beginning of a horror film yet that are really just filler to make the movie feature-length?"
"No, not at all! MORE PLEASE!"

Before I forget, I might as well mention the very forced subplot that only lasts through the first ten minutes about the fact that a lot of America's forests are being torn down. Yes, they actually give the one “leader Alpha male” dude, Jeff, a bunch of lines about how he used to come to this forest as a kid and now they're about to destroy it. Which, after seeing the later parts of this movie with bloodthirsty man-eating monsters in the forest, is probably a good thing. Burn those fucking forests to the ground!

But yeah, that plot never comes up again, which I just love and think is the best thing ever.

They get found by the monster pretty easily, and somehow the strongest and most fit guy dies first, which will happen way too often in this movie. I guess the real way to survive is being a total wimp.

Gore in a horror movie - always best when it's too shaky and close-up to actually see shit.

The monster, content enough to snack on that guy, lets the rest of them go, and they find a random cabin in the woods to hang out at. There are a few others around, a husband and wife couple, Carl and Vicky, and this guy Douglas, whose only job is to bitch and moan and act like HE knows what's best to survive, even though he hasn't survived so much as just hidden in the cabin with the rest of them.

Yes – this character is the most obnoxious in the entire movie, which is a hard feat. For most of the first twenty minutes we see him, he does nothing but condescendingly sneer at their suggestions of what to do, while offering none of his own. His voice is too sexy for a guy this annoying. He should have a really whiny, grating voice like Urkel gurgling broken glass. That would more befit his character I think.

But oh well, at least they're safe in that weird house. Oh wait, no, they're not – the monster is able to get inside through some random room upstairs.

"I was originally in here to read my copy of Moby Dick, which I've been slacking off on recently and need to get back to. But now that the camera is on me, I'M A BLOODTHIRSTY KILLING MACHINE!"

It doesn't come out and kill them in the main part of the house, though – it just breaks into those rooms and waits for them there. I guess it's a very considerate monster; it just waits until the camera is on it to actually do anything. I love the one scene where they're struggling to hold the door up so the monster can't get in, and Carl tells Matt, “Go, I can hold it!” Because these movies love stupid irony, he immediately gets slashed on the arm by the monster. Probably even worse things would have happened too, if they didn't act quickly afterward - so, go you guys. You're the best.

Their next idea is to go hang around outside with Carl standing around acting like bait while Matt tries to run and escape. It backfires, though, when Matt gets killed almost instantly. Gee, maybe it would have been a better idea to have more than one guy running alone in an unfamiliar area where a monster's lurking. Nah, never mind; that's a terrible fucking idea. I should be ashamed.

Then Douglas tries to lock the other two survivors – Sean and Carl – out of the house. The women try to stop him, but he is stronger then them and has more of a penchant for screaming about how he's the only one who knows how to survive. Never mind that if he really knew how to survive, they wouldn't be losing people left and right and stuck in a cabin hiding, but whatever, don't tell him that. He's insecure about it.

"Isn't it a bit unrealistic for you to be this one dimensionally douchey and awful?"
"NO! I'm the unlikable asshole of the movie! I HAVE NO OTHER CHARACTER!"

Anyway, the two guys he said were hopeless and couldn't get back in without the monster coming in, end up getting back in just fine without a scratch on them. Wow. It's exactly an 180 degree opposite from what you said would happen, you dick. You're the worst leader ever.

So apparently then it's time for Sharing Hour, where Sean tearfully reveals that he and Jeff were having a gay affair together. It's largely a pointless scene and never comes up again. But if we're sharing secrets, OK then, I'll join in. Huddle closer, you guys. I don't want anyone to hear this...

...Okay, is the coast clear? Lean in real close and I'll tell you a secret: I paused the movie during this scene and instead made an ice sculpture of Vladimir Putin in my yard. It was pointless and retarded, but still better than this scene, and probably more patriotic, too.

"Non sequitur outburst!"
"Great! I'm sure you'll live 'til the end of the movie!"

Then we get the reveal that Mandy is pregnant! Why the fuck wouldn't she be? I mean, it's a shitty horror movie. Of course someone is secretly pregnant. That is the only way to create drama, right?

They go down in the basement after finding out the one guy is still alive down there, somehow, despite being so mauled he can't move. I guess he had the willpower to conveniently find his way into the basement and not the fucking front door. Selective strength! It's a thing, really.

Unfortunately for them, the monster was down there in the basement too! He was just waiting for the camera to pan to him! Again, what a nice monster. As long as you're trying to go about your business and the camera isn't in his face, he'll just save his energy for the next time it is, and then he'll show off. But because they try to carry the wounded dude up the stairs, the only able-bodied dude who isn't a complete psychopath, Carl, has to get behind and carry the legs. Then the monster decides it's kosher to kill him, because again, the strongest guys in this movie are apparently the easiest targets.

Upstairs, Matt gets out a few last words, and then the psycho from before, Douglas, bashes his brains in with a baseball bat to feed him to the monster outside – because now, I guess THAT'S the plan. He shouts a lot about how he's the only one living in the real world, and it's all very boring until that old irony strikes again and he gets killed by the monster immediately, as if the monster just really wanted to kill someone right after they said such asinine dialogue. Eh, fuck it. I'm on the monster's side now.

"Maybe I shouldn't have stood conveniently by the door for the last part of my self indulgent crazy douchebag monologue! The monster has douchebag-seeking powers!"

Oh, and they kill the monster with fire. Yes – that's really all it would have taken this whole ridiculous time.

The two hottest chicks in the group, Mandy and Alissa, survive, and run outside only for Alissa, who is the more interesting character, to get killed unceremoniously. Because she was the one who wasn't pregnant. Also, it's revealed there are TWO of the monsters! Shock and awe! Maybe you should make them wear different colored ribbons so we can tell them apart next time.

Mandy runs over the other monster with the jeep they came in, and then as she drives away to presumably live in a room indoors for the rest of her life and never come out. Then we get a shot of a third monster that comes and looks at the body of the second one.

Uh, okay, somebody has to raise the question – how did nobody ever discover these monsters? Wouldn't a bunch of man-eating, rabid beasts of questionable origin turn a few heads at least? They're not THAT fucking far from civilization if two different groups of people came out there within a few days of each other. Or maybe they just got there from some science experiment and-or alien invasion. Great. Except that's not in the movie, like at all. If I have to make up random shit that you never even came close to implying let alone actually explaining, your movie is a bit lacking.

Why did the monster just do nothing conveniently when standing in a room until everyone else notices it? That's the stupidest thing ever. The characters make no sense and are either unremarkable or made unlikable later on through poor decision making. The movie tries at drama, but really isn't terribly good at it – mostly just throwing things like the pregnancy subplot or the impressively random gay romance in for one scene and then never talking about them again.

The cinematography can be okay at times, and there are worse movies out there, but this still isn't very good. Really, the film is just notable because it tried to shoehorn in a pro-environmental message in the beginning and then forgot about it – and worse, in the end, shot itself in the foot completely by showing how many bloodthirsty monsters are in that goddamn forest they wanted to save so bad. Somehow, I doubt you'll convince the big heartless corporations not to bulldoze that place and build a Walmart instead.

So really, this is the sequel to Animal:

Images copyright of their original owner; I own none of them.