Saturday, June 9, 2018

Movie Reviews: Feral

directed by Mark Young
Unimaginative and boring even for the genre
How many times do we see people traipse off into the wilderness, discover they have no way of communicating with the outside world, encounter a challenge that will leave some of them dead, do stuff that's incredibly stupid, and reveal hidden capacities for leadership or endurance that will keep a few of them alive to tell the tale. Well pretty often. It's a big part of the Hero's Journey. This motif pops up not just in horror stories but in a great many other tales. It's part of human (mostly male) stories. So the problem with this movie wasn't that it used a common theme. The problem wasn't that it attempted to gender switch everything. The problem wasn't even that it was cheaply made with limited sets. No. 

All of those things are common in the horror genre. The problem was that the writing and characterization and yes even some of the acting was bad. I mean really bad. I mean this is akin to elementary school plays that you only attend because someone related to you is acting in them and your cousin, in-law, or sibling will be hurt if you don't show up for at least some of them.

There are ways to humorously and succinctly reveal that someone has hidden capabilities without ruining the storyline. In the Beverly Hills Cop movies the baby faced younger cop is shown to be a very well armed and eager gun nut, something which causes his partners some unease and promises of "We're gonna have to talk later". In The 13th Warrior, when the Vikings ask their Arab companion where he (suddenly) learned their language, he replies contemptuously "I listened!" And so on. I'm sure you can think of more cinematic or literary examples. But in this movie it's a bit much to swallow that certain characters suddenly have skill sets more commonly found among Army Rangers or Navy SEALs or that they got them from Girl Scouts. YMMV.

Three college age couples (one is a lesbian same sex couple) decide to go camping in the woods.  Most of them are medical students.  One half of the lesbian couple used to be in a relationship with one of the men. He's not over it. And he's not accepting that she's a lesbian.  Problems ahead you know. They set up camp for the night. After proposing to his girlfriend, (she accepted) the other man leaves the tent to see a man about a horse. While he's doing what he has to do, he's attacked and mauled by something. This is about the only scare in the film. His girlfriend goes to see what the ruckus was. She gets got as well. 

Then for reasons, the survivors split up. One group pushes deeper into the forest where they encounter a man in a house who may know some things. The other group tries to go for help.  Wash, rinse repeat. The special effects were good as long as the camera didn't stay focused on them. There was a small flickering flame of interest before the first killing. But that was soon put out. There was no sense of humor or identification with the characters. Compare this to something like the original Evil Dead and its sequel to see how inexpensive horror films can be done right and done very wrong.
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