Without knowing much about this movie 'Animal', my hopes were kind of high nonetheless in that I was thinking this might be a little different. You see the movie starts with a group of mighty diverse young adults going deep into the woods to walk around… don't know why they drove so far out for such a mundane activity… combined with bad cell phone service and just about every other cliché in the kids on the run playbook. I knew they had to be playing this as a sort of parody. Like 'The Cabin in the Woods' or something… there's also a Cabin in the Woods… because there is no way, at this point and time, could the filmmakers be playing this stock set characters and circumstances straight up. Well surprise on me… they play it straight up. Kids running in the woods from a monster, ending up in a cabin in the woods with bad cell phone service. So very unimaginative… but hey, at least it's competent.
Actually this movie starts with a group of older adults out in the woods on the run from something. One of these folks is played by the pop singer Eve who promptly gets eaten. She was in this movie for all of eight seconds and she was BRILLIANT in it. Now it's time to meet our stock set of young adults who traveled to the woods to walk in the woods. Not camp, not search for treasure, just to walk.
First there's Allyssa (Keke Palmer) who is definitely our minority, but also looks like final girl material… but that minority thing kind of throws that in a flux. Then there's her brother Jeff (Parker Young) who looks to be our hero boy and oddly enough is not a minority. Next up there's Allyssa's boyfriend Matt (Jeremy Sumpter) who will be Mr. FunnyMan, followed by Jeff's girlfriend Mandy (Eilzabeth Gilles) who will be our slut. Now in all honesty, Mandy doesn't do much slutty in this movie, but God made Elizabeth Gilles in such a way, and she could be a chaste virgin for all we know, but alas she pretty much has 'slut' written all over her. Finally there's Sean (Paul Iacono) who is colorful and gay. See why we think this is a parody?
So our kids walk in the woods, Allyssa warns her brother it's getting late, but he's having SO much fun walking he loses track of time. Bad move my man because it's not long before they hear the weird sounds, and stuff starts running in front the camera real fast. Wait, there's a cabin in the woods… if they can just make it… Ah… one down.
But now they are in the cabin where they meet the survivors of those older adults we saw earlier. This includes Carl (Thorsten Kaye) whose our REAL hero guy… because… well… he is, and his wife Vicky (Joey Lauren Adams). Finally there's Douglas (Amaury Nolasco) who is our duplicitous 'We All Gonna Die!' guy. He was married to Eve. She's dead.
Here's the situation. Or folks are in the cabin, the monster is circling looking for a way in, but as far as I can tell they are all safe. Until they start doing stuff to make themselves unsafe. Making a run for it, hanging around outside, going in the basement, coming up with a plan… those kind of things. Not surprisingly it's gonna be up to one spunky chick to take this beast down! The Final Girl! With a bit of a mixup, mainly because of my initial concerns with this Final Girl that I spoke about earlier.
What can I tell you about 'Animal'? Well, it was directed by a young man named Brett Simmons who a couple of years back directed a film called 'Husk', which for all intent and purposes is almost exactly the same as this one. Kids with bad cellphone reception trapped in some kind of cabin with a crazed beast, a possessed scarecrow this time, trying to kill them. The main difference was that movie took place in a cornfield… scarecrow… and this one takes place in the woods. One really isn't better than the other, though this one does bring on the gore in heavy doses, for those of you that like that kind of thing.
The problem with 'Animal', as we mentioned earlier, is that end of the day… it's tired. I mean at some point it has to get a little old watching attractive young adults run in the woods away from creatures over and over again. I'm so old now I can't even take pleasure, with a clear conscious, watching decidedly attractive young ladies such as Keke Palmer and Elizabeth Gilles bounce around since I have kids close to their age. Cover up dammit! Thus we are just kind of stuck watching the same plot points play out.
Still, the movie does slightly divert from convention in the way that our kids are dispatched, basically taking a somewhat different route to get the same end, and as we mentioned the film is competent and say your around the same age as the Disney TV personalities that are in this movie, chances are you haven't seen this setup a thousand times already, and with that in mind this movie might be awesome to you.
'Animal' covers familiar ground, that much we can't deny, but it's tired premise was at least a decent enough time waster.