Struggling in what feels like a horror dry-spell, for this week’s report I turned to others to help direct me towards a film to review. Fellow horror hound Rob Hunter bravely stepped forward and recommended I check out Animals, currently streaming on Netflix. Now, when I say bravely, I mean cowardly, because this film has been tied up in development hell for years, faced all sorts of troubles in getting made, and was dumped straight into the video world. Hunter, perhaps in an attempt to dodge a bad bullet, set me on the case.
Animals, based on a book by the same name from authors John Skipp and Craig Spector, follows a down on his luck ex-collegiate sports star who gets entangled with a dangerous, sex craved woman and her blood thirsty ex boyfriend. While the film is entitled Animals and suggests that we all have some sort of animal within, it is apparently just some sort of spectral werewolf.
Eleven people meet their ends during the course of the film, though a few are quick and one or two are off screen. There are about five or six solid kills though.
A deer is run over, there are a couple of bloody throat bites, a guy is hit by a car, there’s some beatings and a partial face rip. Toss in some gory claw slashings and one ripped out heart and that’s your ills.
Damn if this film doesn’t do a good job in bringing on the lust. First up, Eva Amurri is in the flick and she’s sporting one of the largest racks working in film today. She’s involved in a fairly tame sex scene.
Pulling out all the stops is Supernatural’s Nicki Aycox, who is involved in at least three sex scenes (and a rape scene), exposes her breasts several times, and simulates a blowjob. Her partner in lust is most often Marc Blucas’ Jarret, who exposes his ass several times for the ladies. Some of the sex scenes are tame, a few are fully naked, and one is a crazy sequence in the rain that puts the Spider-Man upside down rainy kiss to shame when Jarret throws Nora onto his shoulders and performs oral sex against a wall in the rain. Hot damn. Or, as I wrote in my notes “ball munching, box munching, if it can be munched it is!”
Werewolves are horny. Really horny.
There are a half dozen reasons why one could fear this movie – the long delay in its release, its direct to video nature, the very idea of spectral werewolves and poor CGI. That said, I’m glad I invested the time into it. Now, it’s not a good film and in fact, there are bits of it that are absolutely atrocious, but overall the film is engaging – thanks to plenty of nudity and sex.
Around half-way in to the flick, I was wondering why this floundered in development hell for so long and why no one had watched it – after all, it has a recognizable cast: Marc Blucas (Knight and Day), Nicki Aycox (Supernatural) Naveen Andrews (Lost), and Eva Amurri (Californication). On top of that, again, so much nudity! What could possibly go wrong?
Well, plenty goes wrong around 45 minutes in. Up until this point there is some awkward voice over and some annoying camera movements, but when Naveen’s Vic faces off with Jarret for the first time, resulting in an exploding car, there is a solid three minute montage of terrible effects, choppy editing, and just a general level of cinematic atrocity. Really, really just filmmaking at its worst.
Animals makes something of a come back, but never really gathers the steam of the first half – steam generated by a few bloody kills and four sex scenes. The latter feels rushed with the evil Vic coming into town, kidnapping Nora, who then escapes, only to fight the secret werewolf, which enrages Vic who now wants to kill everyone. The film’s most unrealistic relationship is that between Vic and Nora, which is unfortunate because it is the motivation for Vic to do pretty much everything he does in the film, meaning that really, this guy is an idiot.
The CGI in the film is never good, but in the beginning of the movie its sparse. Towards the end we get a lot more of it and it’s all pretty much on par with a SyFy original, which is to say it’s not that great.
Story wise, the film is fairly simple and straight forward, which I never hold against a flick. In terms of sex and violence, the film satisfies – hell, its worth watching just for the cunnilingus in the rain sequence. What hampers the film, though, is the actual filmmaking. The way they attempt to tell the story. Primarily, there is shitty and infrequent voice over work that serves no purpose. Secondary, there are times of awkward editing and strange camera movement that distract from scenes rather than amplifying them. I could forgive the film its narrative flaws and weak characterization evident in the last act, but I can’t ignore the glaring bits of just technically poor movie making.
While that sounds harsh, it comes from a position of thinking that this film could have been pretty darn good when instead it comes off as a very uneven average.
A final note – I’ve mentioned “spectral werewolves” a few times and thats sort of what is going on. A lot of times our “animal” people are just people with big fake teeth (that look fine), but every now and then they are blue, ghostly CGI werewolves. It sounds terrible, but surprisingly, I could roll with it. Oh, one more thing – the last scene of the movie is a completely pointless, meaningless, tacked on closer that is just so awkwardly tagged on, complete with horrendous voice over and dialog, that you should turn the film off 45 seconds early. It’s not that the scene is horrible in and of itself, its just borderline offensive that the film makers thought we needed this scene, that literally accomplishes nothing.
In summation, there are a few decent bits of violence and a whole lot of excellent sex. The film is watchable and better than a lot of crap out there, but ultimately a bit disappointing. Check it out if you’re in the mood for late night Cinemax levels of sex and a few ripped out throats.