Monday, June 5, 2017

31 Days of Spooky Movies: Animal

Day #25


A group of friends go out for a day hike in the remote woods, but things take a turn for the worst when they start being hunted by a monstrous creature.

Fright Factor:
2 / 5 Condescending Men

Gore Factor:
3 / 5 Maulings

Should you watch it?

Common among Horror movies are the ones that get made not because a talented creator had a good idea, but because someone needed content. Think of them like the Hallmark Lifetime specials of Horror: they’re not movies made to rake it up at the box office or create art, they’re made on the cheap to serve as content (generally as television stuffing or streaming filler).

And I guess their dastardly plan worked, because I ended up watching it! Touché.

They might have succeeded in getting another view, but they certainly didn’t succeed in making a great movie. The filmmakers seemed rather clueless about the art of creating fear. And what do you do when you don’t know how to create something original? That’s right! You just try to copy what other people have done. Yet without a developed sense of the Who/What/When/Why/Where/How’s of Horror, it all just falls flat. The plot is hackneyed and the writing is quite lazy and only has one (and only one) memorable element: the indomitable Keke Palmer.

Palmer out-acts everyone in the film and single-handedly straps this movie onto her back and drags its out from the pit of Awful and into the plains of Mediocre. If it wasn’t for Palmer’s character Alissa I would have turned this thing off really early on. And thus Alissa is really the only part of the movie worth talking about.

Alissa is such an intriguing element to find in a crappy movie like this. Here’s this badass woman of color who is outdoorsy, caring, and fiercely clever. A character who consistently analyzes threats to the group with remarkable precision and is without a doubt the group’s MVP.

But the truly infuriating thing about this movie isn’t the poor writing or the sloppy production, it’s that NO ONE in the movie will acknowledge Alissa’s contributions! Some dumb-ass dude is always ignoring her advice and straight-up telling her she’s wrong...and then they end up suffering the results! (As do we!)

The level at which female opinions are dismissed is so high that at points I started to wonder if the whole thing was some sort satiric move on the filmmaker’s behalf to mock the tropes of the genre, but sadly this just isn’t the case. What it comes down to is that the movie is just inherently sexist. They wanted to have a strong female character who was more than just a damsel to distress, but they didn’t want to actually follow through with what that entails.

So there you have it. Animal is a made-for-cable monster movie that was saved from utter blandness by a stellar performance by Keke Palmer. And yet in spite of her valiant efforts, the film sabotages her character at every turn in order to stick to a bland recipe of over-used plot-lines and tropes. While it really isn’t worth watching, it does provide an interesting example of the inherent friction between people’s desire for fully-formed female characters and the industry’s reluctance to fully commit to it.

“I think it wants us here.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I mean, how did Vicky and Carl end up here? How did any of us end up here? Coincidence?”

“But it doesn’t matter.”

“Thing ate Jeff like it was nothing. How come it didn’t do the same thing to the rest of us?”

“Babe, Don’t do this.”
“All I’m saying is that it herded us here. Eating what it can and saving the rest as prey.”

“Babe, baby-”

“How else can you explain it?”

“Baby, I know it’s hard for you. Okay? But you can’t keep doing this. You’re over thinking-”

“No, I’m not. I’m being completely rational.”


“You’re not even listening to me.”

“Babe, look at me... it’s just an animal. That’s it. And what’s happening in here? To us? Is happening because it just is. Figuring out why that it’s happening doesn’t help us. But figuring out how to get out of here? That does.
Come here. You’re the smartest girl that I know. You’re a genius. So don’t let that beautiful brain of yours spiral out of control because you can’t figure out something, okay?”

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