Director Brett Simmons follows up his horror ventures, of Husk (2011) and The Monkey’s Paw (2013) with the dueling writers prowess of Thommy Hutson and Catherine Trillo, both who worked on Prank (2008) and then added in for good measure executive producer Drew Barrymore, supplying her name to the project entitled Animal. The film never truly explains the origins of the Animal, and yet never needs to, this a direct monster movie, seeking to satisfy the nature desire of need to feed. The central point of the story has a coming to together to the betterment of the group with a close knit friends gathering for a mellow trip to the wilderness but hits a bit of a pothole in the vastness of the nature.
In the opening sequences, it shows fans that this a retro piece of horror, with 1980s style of opening credits and hinting to John Carpenter, then following a suggestions of foreshadowing that deforestation cause irreparable harm to the animals and the balance of nature. From this standpoint the feel of the film attracts one to either Prophecy (1979) or Day of the Animals, however the group of friends, which contains two sets of couples and a fifth wheel, in the form of a flamboyant friend Sean (Paul Iacono from Return to Sleepaway Camp fame). The commonplace cookie cutter thriller blueprint finds itself lying unused on the floor, no references to excessive drinking college students, no partying with sexual innuendos or engaging in premarital intercourse, not even a goody-two-shoes girl of pure innocence, leading the die-hard horror fans wondering what the story has in mind for them. The group consists of team leader Jeff (Parker Young who has traveled far from is his first horror film, Gingerdead Man 2) and his girlfriend Mandy (Elizabeth Gilles) followed by a stepsister Alissa (Keke Palmer) and lastly her boyfriend Matt (Jerry Sumpter, noted for his work in Richard Bates Jr.’s Excision). This group raises red flags for dedicated horror fans, far too many characters for survival for in a horror film set in the woods. In wilderness sounds from odd creatures echo across the tree line, and yet ignore by the hikers, soon enough one discovers a military backpack leading to possible suggests a experiment gone wrong. The buildup takes time to work the magic but nightfall causes chaos, as the creature makes the uncommon appearance far too early in the film. As blood, splattering death removes one their friends, Alissa’s steps into the lead role leading her panic group of friends to the cabin in the woods, and discovering more characters bringing the new count of survivors to seven. One troubling issue, the cabin’s barricade though week, contains a numerous boards and nails, never finishing the thought of who did it and where they retrieved all the wood and nails, not something a common cabin in the woods supplies in the interior.
The Animal receives a professional appearance, instead just a rubber suited man creature, yet, complete with a stunning killing and gore effects, it borrows from the commonplace creatures of Nailbiter, Feast and perhaps even Creature. The look appears stylish, thanks in part to Gary J. Tunnicliffe and add in the incredible chore and realistically lighting a forest at night, and the film tries valiantly to lift itself above the norm. For added accompanying the scores comes from Tomandandy providing and favoring a crunching metal and electro beats, perhaps to suggest the feeding frenzy and the intense tactical thinking of the Animal.
Chiller studios, directly responsible for the creation of Animal, provides insight to direction of the film, hitting most of the required aspects, with violence, much blood loss, suspense and scary moments, but the audience is left wondering about the Animal. An excellent tidbit, the combination of groups shows trust issues and cross demographics that complicate the rising tensions of the trapped survivors. The movie poster provides limited information except the beast has several rows of teeth, one wonders if it is a slimy bigfoot or a werewolf, as when the beast claws at potential victims, the camera closes-in on the would suggesting a deeper meaning. The answer perhaps hints to a solution at the end of the film, in the credits portion.