A sort of cabin in the woods. A group of pretty, disposable characters. A creature with a thirst for blood. And that's more or less it.
“Animal,” on Blu-ray Feb. 17, doesn’t tinker with the horror formula more than necessary. It’s not an exercise in meta-awareness, a treatise on CGI effects or even a subversive take on modern life.
It’s just a straightforward horror romp, and as such it punches the clock without embarrassment.
The film begins — say it all together now — with some attractive friends who find themselves alone in the woods when something threatens their hedonistic plans.
The something in question is an actor in an “animal” suit who apparently hasn’t eaten for days. Our heroes flee to a remote house where three other folks are currently hiding out. The two groups pool their resources to defeat the creature, but the body count quickly starts to climb.
It’s hard to work up much excitement about “Animal” on paper. The cast is mostly unfamiliar faces along with a, “hey, isn’t that Joey Lauren Adams from ‘Chasing Amy?'” moment. Even the Blu-ray cover art emits a straight to video stench.
So when “Animal” delivers on its modest goals — making us care when certain characters are picked off and leaving us clenching our armrests during the finale — it’s more refreshing than usual.
Credit director Brett A. Simmons for recycling shopworn elements into an appealing package. His film wisely doesn’t dig deep into the creature’s mythology. It’s a killing machine, plain and simple, and the sooner our heroes figure that out, the better.
The scrip is sturdy enough to avoid any unnecessary distractions. The standard survivor who cracks under the pressure adds one more cliché to the stew, but it gives the plot enough of a boost between monster attacks.
“Animal’s” practical effects would be considered state of the art if this was 1996, not 2015. As it is, they’re good enough. The creature’s growls make up for the FX deficiencies, as does the crisply edited action. And the film offers one juicy jump scare, which is one more than most mainstream horror movies offer.
The Blu-ray’s extras include the director’s commentary track and some very short interview-based extras. Clearly the cast and crew embraced the subject matter without artifice, giving “Animal” the feel of a fandom project with horror junkies firmly in mind.
DID YOU KNOW: ‘Animal’ co-star Joey Lauren Adams once told an interviewer she didn’t feel a part of the ‘feminist generation.’
HiT Blu-ray Review: ‘Animal’