Sunday, February 27, 2011

Primal (2010)

Sometimes, horror fans-myself included-tend to bemoan the fact that there isn't much originality in the horror genre, in spite of the fact that it's been self-cannibalizing for God knows how long. "Oh look, another zombie movie" or "Yep, more dumb kids getting killed by a hulking, masked psychopath." You get the idea. Yet sometimes, a movie without any originality whatsoever comes by, and you say "to hell with it, this is fun for what it is." Case in point is 2010's "Primal", which could best be described as what would happen if you took "The Evil Dead", "Cabin Fever", "The Descent", "The Ruins", and some Roger Corman produced alien movie from the 80's with a pinch of a 21st century zombie movie, mixed them in a blender, and then dumped them in Australia.

Anja (Zoe Tuckwell-Smith) and five of her pals join anthropology student Dace (Wil Travel) to study some remote ancient rock paintings. Well, Mel (Krew Boylan) feels sick after skinny dipping in a waterhole, and the next thing you know, she's sporting really sharp teeth and hunting down and killing anyone who isn't like her. Why? It turns out that there's something in the water that causes you to become a primal, almost mutated and super fast killing machine, and to make things worse, it begins to spread. Oh, and there's that thing in the cave...

"Primal" is not a great horror movie. The unnecessary slow motion and a bad sex joke near the end feel out of place, the score is unremarkable, and the CGI effects are atrocious. Plus, there's the fact that you've seen it all before. There isn't one thing in this movie that's original, and the title "Cliche the Motion Picture" probably would have been more fitting. And in spite of all of that, I still found myself having fun for the large part.

It's clear that writer/director Josh Reed knows what he's doing-a pastiche of other, better horror films-but as far as pastiche pictures go, this isn't that bad. While a few jokes fall flat, more of them actually work, and I got a few hearty laughs out of some of the situations (a bit involving a kangaroo being tackled and killed is especially funny.) There also aren't any real scares available, but there's plenty of bloodshed, a bit of nudity from Boylan, and enough energy and enthusiasm to help it get along. It also helps that while nothing excellent, the performances get the job done, and the actors manage not to annoy the viewer or embarrass themselves with pointless mugging.

Is "Primal" some kind of classic? Very far from it. It is however, a fun little "beer and pizza with your friends" horror film, and proves to be a decent little time waster. Maybe sometimes, just sometimes, originality is a bit overrated.

Rating: 6.5/10

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