What do you do when your kid asks you if you want to die? Especially if it’s coming from your son who no one wants to be around with. Even you start wishing your boy was normal. The Babadook is a very well written boogeyman tale that delves into your psyche and hits the dark corners of your mind and emotions you wouldn’t expect it to do at first sight. Firstly, you have a single mother, Amelia, played wonderfully by Essie Davis (where’s the nomination?) who works at a retirement home and takes good care of her seven year old son. She is in need of help, mostly due to the absence of the affectionate touch from a man in her life and sleep depravity. Someone give this woman some chocolate and a day off. Amelia lost her husband on the day of the birth of her child, Samuel. Samuel is a troubled kid who fancies magic and plays with his imagination. But when is it ever imagination? He takes up arms in defense from this dark force and, like his father, speaks his mind, talking about the monster where ever he goes, even scaring kids his age. The crazy talk is heightened to a new level when Amelia says Samuel can choose a story to read before bedtime, of all stories he chooses The Babadook. The words and the pop-up pictures are no less than unsettling and peculiar. Where did this book come from? Like the film itself, the book is draped in black and grey, paling colors making it feel ghostly and depressing. She says to choose another book but Samuel wants to keep reading the story he has chosen. From here, the weird begins to escalate. Amelia even rips up the book and tosses it. But after three heavy knocks at the door, the book returns at her door step. She turns for help from her sister, Claire, but she wants nothing to do with her, especially Amelia’s son who talks about a monster and unintentionally hurts Claire’s daughter. Good going. More sleepless nights occur, more encounters with the boogeyman. Amelia looks to the police to report someone stalking her and her son, but she knows they would write her off as crazy. The stress level starts to wear down on Amelia and you see it, you even start to experience it. My head felt toyed. Is this real or is she just experiencing a nightmare? She begins to mistreat the boy (oops, I said it) like her psyche takes a sinister turn. It’s something you wouldn’t hear her say or see her do, it’s just not her, not what a mother would do.
via Animal (2014) – IMDb.
On the surface, Animal looks like your usual low-budget, monster B-movie. Underneath is pretty much the same. Not entirely bad, I might add, it stands out of the crowd just a tad. The movie features great creature effects that show off early on, if only it was matched by some good dialogue (if not campy). With a couple good kills and a simple as you can get storyline, Animal is sure to entertain some audience.
Animal follows the likes of Dog Soldiers and Predator. Although, the storyline is much simpler: teens go out in the woods for fun, they get lost and find a creature that has a taste for human flesh. They proceed to run away from this thing and manage to find shelter in a cabin where they meet another band of survivors. One of them has their noggin wound up a little too tight and makes decisions that will frustrate you and talking to the screen, ‘are you stupid?’ Because he makes choices like sacrificing people and making a run for it, we’re supposed to understand his blind decision making and insanity since his girl was killed off in the opening scene. But au contrar, I could care less. Kill the bastard. But what’s a horror movie without someone doing something stupid? I, for one, did not care for pretty much any of the characters. I pin that cause on the writing; it’s just so careless and lazy, it made the characters appear uneducated.
Many parts of the movie are predictable but for the sake of the other parts that are unexpected I won’t spoil anything for you. The surprise moments happen early on which makes the rest of the movie feel more vulnerable. Every boarded up window, closed door or ruffling bush leaves you an impression something is gonna happen but you don’t know when! Even some deaths can catch you off guard but somehow the shock value wears thin especially towards the end when things speed up. Vulnerability is still lingering in the atmosphere but the characters just get picked off in more careless acts of violence. Which the gore is reminiscent of Feast, similarly the animal compared to it’s ferocity. The animal itself is creepy at first, but shows it’s beastly-self far too often and the scare dies down. We become familiar with it’s movements all too soon. Good thing the special effects are good. If there is one thing Animal did right was showing the creature in prosthetics. I don’t remember seeing any or little creature related CGI. That’s one thing to make your monster more believable and devilishly cheesy. Creature features and other usual B-movie fodder use a lot of CGI, but what if they used prosthetics instead? I’m a believer that CGI doesn’t last as long as special make-up effects tend to do.
I looked at Animal hoping it wouldn’t become another failure like Creature with Sid Haig, fortunately Animal steps above it. The acting is so-so, given the script the actors had to work with. And I take back some of what I said, I thought Carl and Mandy were cool and didn’t want to see them go, one gets mauled (not a complete spoil) off screen. Subsequently, Animal is a small surprise that borrows ideas from other films, which is cool, I don’t mind that, I just wish the writing could have had more work done; it would have helped the execution. That alone I think is what will keep Animal from gaining a cult following. Unless they follow up a storyline that answers questions like: why is that cabin there? why are the creatures familiar with it? and where did they come from? But I’m expecting another military bio-project gone bad.
I recommend horror fans alike to give this a look, and any other audience members looking for an escape to the woods.
It has been a week since I last saw Cannibal Holocaust. Needless to say the horrific images are still buried in my brain. 35 years after it’s initial release, this ‘video nasty’ still shocks viewers and I don’t believe that will end any time soon. Few movies have left me sitting long after the credits. Few movies have left the movie swirling in my head still as I think to myself: Wow, what did I just watch? or Gee, this movie was deeply disturbing, or better, That was a profound experience. Movies like The Living and The Dead, Irreversible, and The Hunt have all left me with this. Cannibal Holocaust will leave you feeling depressed and filthy. Like a tribesman just gutted you and packed you full of mud as you are helplessly tied, then he laughs as you watch him eat the organs he tenderly took away from you.
The reviews and trailers can not prepare you for this. Much like the film crew the movie is based around. The story is centered on a young documentary crew going to the Amazon to film a native cannibal tribe. This cannibal tribe, however, is in unmarked territory. But wait! They brought a guide, so of course they will be safe… They go missing. Another small team is assembled to go search for them. This is mainly how the movie begins. You meet this crew who are on the rescue mission, then meet the tribe and find the film entangled with human bones. After they retrieve the film, they proceed to watch in horror what really happened to the documentarians. The whole structure of Cannibal Holocaust is great. It’s probably my favorite part of the movie, just watching the events unfold and learn the natives’ costumes. Once you reach the ‘film’ it’s shot like a found footage movie. Way before Blair Witch Project there was this, and must say it was handled expertly. But this is much more than a horror movie, more than an exploration in a jungle. It’s a film that explores human beings in a primitive state posed to being civilized. But who is civilized?
Weren’t we once savages? Director Ruggero Deodato makes us ponder many different subjects coursing through the film’s veins. One major controversial question is ‘did the live animals need to be slaughtered on film?’ Maybe it would have garnered more of an audience if not so. The native cannibal tribe did not accept our modern currency so instead Deodato offered them animals. These animals are killed on screen. Most notably the turtle scene, which holds up to its own grotesque rep. Turtles are one of my favorite animals and it was sad to see it butchered on screen. This is probably the worst part about the movie, which keeps you from cheering at the end when the film crew get what they deserved. Yes, the crew deserved their life-sentenced-punishment. It’s not just found in the conclusion while watching the found footage cam; where you see these young people mistreat the natives and disturb the peace. It is shown and understood when you see the rescuers being accepted as visitors; only because they expressed a much more human side and respect, like being bare naked and wearing no fear. In a way, the two storylines are parallel. If you are brave enough, and are not squirmish and can take the pain the movie does so well of inducing, you will see what I mean.
I do think the landscape could have been utilized better. Like I wanted to see more of what the land was like there, above, below, in the trees. But the movie did a good job of making you feel like dirt. In short, Cannibal Holocaust is a masterpiece. Not just as a horror but a social commentary drama. A much disturbingly, aching, nasty, raw masterpiece, standing on its own pillars. A few things I have learned, in our civilization we are focused on violence, very similar to how this movie is portrayed. Another thing I learned from this movie is that knowledge is pain. When the Professor (part of the rescue team) shows the editors back in the states the film clips that were uncovered, the editors wanted to see more and more of what happened. They wanted to distribute the footage for money, caring little for the lives that were lost. When they came to the end, the editors insisted on watching the rest and sell it to the world to eat up. So, the Professor put it on… Afterwards the editors looked at each other and walked away with out a word. One of them calls up the studio and tells them to get rid of everything. We are left with one final question: Who are the real cannibals?