From the executive producers of Donnie Darko comes a new tale of terror. When plans for a weekend getaway hit a dead end, a group of close-knit friends finds themselves stranded in unfamiliar territory, pursued by a menacing, bloodthirsty predator. Holed up in an isolated cabin, they turn on one another as tensions mount and long-buried secrets are revealed. But when the body count rises, the group must put their differences aside and fight for survival.
The poster for this film does not shy away from showing you the actual monster up close. In fact, it's what the poster solely is, an image of the beast or 'Animal' itself. Most horror films want to keep you in the dark for a good thirty to forty-five minutes before you get a glimpse of whatever monster they throw at you, but that's not the case with this film. That being said, this very low budget monster movie has a very cool looking monster. It's one of the better ones I've seen in recent years, however, that's about the only thing this film has going for it.
I was shocked to see that Drew Barrymore was a producer on the film. Maybe it's because she starred in several horror movies in her career and wanted to give back to a new generation. Or maybe it's because she owed someone a big favor, but trust me, you wouldn't want your name associated with this movie. And then there is actress Joey Lauren Adams who shows up for a good chunk of the movie too. The rest of the cast, you may or may not have every heard or seen before. But for the low budget that this film has, Barrymore and Adams are huge names and assets to market this type of movie.
Unfortunately, the film doesn't really go anywhere, nor is that exciting, as it's the same horror film we've seen one-hundred million times before. 'Animal' centers on a group of five co-ed teens who decide to have a long weekend trip together. Instead of going to a city or beach, they head out to the deep dark woods to a cabin for a little rest and relaxation. I sense you can see what happens next. Well, as their luck would have it, there is a hideous monster living in the woods, whose sole purpose is to eat and brutally kill anything or anyone that just happens to be in the woods. And that my friends, is the story of 'Animal'. There’s nothing really more to it.
With so many movies that have the same storylines and similar characters, it becomes a game of how fresh or different you can make the film fit in the genre. That's not the case here. Director Brett Simmons (The Monkey's Paw), doesn't want to keep things fresh here. Instead, he keeps the same exact flow and story from each film, prior to this one as each character is picked off one by one. Again, the one thing going for this film is the look of the monster. The monster was built and is not CG, which is cool. And even though it looks fairly cheap, Simmons knew how to shoot it to make it look like a scary and thrilling monster.
It's just too bad he didn't focus on the script or story line. As for you gore-hounds, the blood and guts fly all over the place, and should be up to your twisted standards. For a monster movie that you've seen a thousand times before, 'Animal' does the job, but other than that, this horror film is a stinker.
'Animal' comes with a very good 1080p HD transfer 2.35:1 aspect ratio even though the box art says 1.78:1. This digitally shot feature is mostly shot in very low-lit settings. Rarely is there a very well-lit scene in the daylight or even an interior room that shines. But then again, that would take away from the horror this film tries to convey. Being shot in the dark, there isn't that much room for a lot of color that pops off screen or a whole lot of detail that you can see clearly here.
The detail is somewhat sharp throughout, particularly during the well-lit scenes that reveal fine textures and great facial features on the actors. But when in the darkness with only a flashlight or a fire that illuminates the action on screen, it can get a bit hairy to distinguish certain individual aspects of the image. Colors tend to stay toward a greenish blue tint with a bit of a yellowish orange thrown in there. Other than that, there isn't much else in the form of color. Skin tones look natural despite the color scheme and black levels run deep and inky throughout, which surprised me. There were no real major concerns with banding, aliasing, or any video noise, which makes this video presentation worthy of high marks.
This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix and might be the best thing about this release. While this horror film may not be the best thing since sliced limbs, the sound field is quite impressive. Every sound effect and ambient noise is full, robust, and very lively. There are a lot of moments where the sound crescendos or a loud noise is made to scare you out of your viewing seat, and it accomplishes this feat quite well. Whether it be the roar of the monster, a bang on a wall or door, or even something crashing down, you'll feel it in your bones and think that it happened right behind you.
I will say that a lot of the action comes from the front speakers, however, there is a good dynamic with the rears as well from time to time. The bass kicks into high gear quite often as well. The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to follow, and free of any pops, cracks, or hiss. The LFE is excellent and the dynamic range is very wide. This horror track is immersive and hits most of the right notes, leaving it with great marks.
Audio Commentary - Director Brett Simmons delivers the commentary here as he discusses making the film. He talks about casting, setting up some of the shots, and praising his cast. It's a decent enough commentary track, but that means you have to watch the film again.
Behind the Scenes (HD, 3 Mins.) - A short, standard promo piece for the film with cast and crew interviews and on set footage. Nothing really to see here.
Interviews (HD, 2 Mins.) - A couple of the cast members talk about making the movie. Again, your standard, promo piece with no useful information.
Trailers (HD, 2 Mins.) - Trailers for the film.
'Animal' could have been a great film, but the filmmakers just re-hashed the same plot material and characters that we've seen a million times before. While the monster itself looks pretty good, the rest of the film is a bomb. The video and audio presentations are both technically sound and good, but the extras are more just a promo puff piece, rather than delivering anything useful, fun, or informative. If you're a fan of monster movies, you may want to rent this one first. Other than that, feel free to skip this one all together.