When I saw the trailer for "Rise of the Animals" a while back, I rolled my eyes, thinking that it would be a micro budgeted (about $7,000 apparently) version of your average SyFy channel movie. What I saw ended up being what might become my guiltiest pleasure of the year-a off beat horror comedy that mixes (and has some fun with) the nature-run-amok genre mixed with some cute teen romance thrown in for good measure.
Wolf (Greg Hopple) is a nerdy (but thankfully not in an obnoxious way) pizza delivery boy whose only friend in the world is Jake (Adam Schonenberg.) One night on a delivery, they meet a group of girls partying in a cabin in the woods, and Wolf almost loses his virginity to Samantha (Nicole Salisbury.) Things take a turn for the worst the next day though, when animals-and I mean all animals-go on a blood-thirsty rampage against humanity. Can Wolf find the love of his life, or will he find new love in Rachel (Stephanie Motta)? Can they make it out alive? What is causing these critters to turn on us?
There are some obvious flaws-the acting is poor, the CG effects are bad (at times even worse than some SyFy channel movies), the jokes are more hit than miss, and the gore effects can get annoying (most of it is your standard issue "buckets of blood splashed on people" variety) and repetitive. However, this isn't something like your basic Asylum movie done with only money on it's mind, and featuring washed up actors who will star in anything for a check. This is an honest to God movie made by people who wanted to make a movie, and it has much more heart and enthusiasm than those movies. It also deserves kudos for not going the Chris Seaver/John Johnson route of "Let's just goof off and film it" school of micro-budget movies making.
It's also better made. Though the film itself is essentially a movie made by college students, writer/director Chris Wojcik manages to film the whole thing in a brisk pace, with little fat to trim and some shockingly competent direction and editing on display. I also liked the protagonists. Sure, the actors playing them might not be the most experienced guys you'll meet, but they actually come off as real people, and they are likable to boot, as you really do find yourself rooting for Wolf, Rachael and Jake. Oh, and even though the jokes miss more than they hit, the ones that hit got some solid laughs from me. The best one BTW, ends with Steph knocking out a horse with her fists and feet.
I can't rate this higher than I want to, but for fans of no-budget horror comedy, "Rise of the Animals" is a bit of a surprise. I'll watch this over "Super Shark" any day of the week.