Saturday, June 26, 2021

Movie Reviews: Feral State

Feral State
directed by Jon Carlo
This is a film by a first time director. I decided to watch it because the subject matter seemed promising and because the best known actress in the film, AnnaLynne McCord, whom I last saw in 68 Kill, was here playing a role quite different from her performance in that earlier film. 
Feral State was sufficiently gritty and "realistic" in that people get hurt, lots of action takes place at night time or in dark areas, and there are plenty of people with questionable morals.
However if 68 Kill turned up the volume on stereotypes of rural low class red state Caucasians to cartoonish levels, Feral State is more serious. It's not as entertaining. I find that ironic because 68 Kill, violent and as debauched as it was, actually had a message hiding within. Feral State does not. 
There's a lot of "why" that could have put into the movie, maybe not all in one or two obvious information dumps, but perhaps scattered throughout the narrative. 
I don't think this took place. So I didn't care about many characters or sympathize with them when they do bad things or make tough decisions. I don't think the actors were bad. The film should have taken more time to give the viewer a chance to distinguish the various characters, learn what makes them tick, and give them some background besides being the "quiet guy", the "Black guy", the "bullying guy". What makes violence impactful to me is if I actually care about the person who is committing it or suffering through it. The film looked good. It made the viewer think that he was actually in the backwoods Florida swamps doing dirty things with dirtier people.
Mack Monroe (Ronnie Gene Blevins) is a military veteran and drifter who possesses a dangerous mixture of charisma, ego, and religious knowledge.
He has used this to become a Charles Manson like cult leader. Well perhaps cult is too strong a word for Mack's current group. 
He only has a few people in his group, all of whom appear to be teenagers. They are either runaways or dropouts. Mack claims to provide them religious guidance, a father figure, and a place to live. Well maybe, but his religious teachings are cobbled together gobbledygook, the homes are stolen from other people, and what kind of father could ever threaten to kill his "children"?
Mack's primary interest is not in bettering the lives of his followers but in using them to feed his ego and his pocketbook. When the male teens aren't being forced to do calisthenics they and the girls are listening to Mack drone on the secret meanings of religious texts he probably hasn't read and doesn't understand.

The teens also rob and sometimes kill drug dealers. Mack says drugs are bad, although Mack isn't above using them. One of the prettier female teens also works as a prostitute. Of course Mack takes her money, just as he does with money his "boys" get from their robberies. 
Everything is turning up roses for Mack and his group until a bloody job they pull puts them on the radar of both the police in the form of Detective Ellis (McCord) and the local biker/drug gang leader, Colton (Kacey Fisher).
Neither person is sure of Mack's identity but they both intend to find him and make him stop his robberies. Prison would be far more pleasant for Mack than what the bikers have planned for him. A strange young woman who has come into the group, Daisy (Ciera Dean) will shake things up. Although McCord is the best known actress in this movie, I wouldn't say it was "her" movie. It's an ensemble cast. There are long periods of time in which McCord is not on screen. All in all for what it was this wasn't a bad movie. Just not a great one. There are some explicit scenes of violence and (less occasionally) sex.
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