'Feral' (2018) Review
What's It About?
A wild animal attacks six medical students on a weekend hike in the woods. One by one, they become infected with a “feral disease”, turning them into rabid, bloodthirsty creatures, and the vacation becomes a nightmare as they fight to survive each other.
Trailer From IFC Midnight
Quick Film Information
Written and directed by Mark Young with Adam Frazier.
Released: Charlotte Film Festival in 2017 and VOD May 2018.
Good movies from this director: The Killing Jar (2010) and Wicked Blood (2014) both scored OK in the ratings. Mark Young has a new movie lined up for 2019 called Limbo.
Genres: Action | Drama | Horror | Thriller
Produced by Alternate Ending Films and Distributed by IFC Midnight.
Starring: Scout Taylor-Compton (Halloween 2007), Olivia Luccardi (It Follows 2014), Lew Temple (Devil's Rejects 2005), Renee Olstead (Unfriended 2014), Brock Kelly (Supernatural 2009) and George Finn (Time Lapse 2014.)
How Was It?
Feral starts off with a bang. Literally. I always love a bit of the technique in-media-res but instead, the opening scenes gave me more of deja vu feeling. Young people hiking in the wilderness is a common theme in horror.
The group admits defeat and somehow get lost. Another commonality in movies of this ilk. As most later claim to be intellectuals, one would think they'd have a sense of direction. They cut their losses as it begins to grow dark and decide to stay where they are. The leisurely pace of the story so far is interrupted by a surprising choice of soundtrack, some Honky-tonk music envelopes the scene as they set up camp. The score possibly chosen to take the audience off guard or perhaps relax, did nothing for me except forced me to raise a quizzical eyebrow. I half expected the new group of campers to break into dance.
With a fire roaring each character is introduced. Not only are these people intellectuals, but they're also all in med school. I die a little inside at the lack of care taken in the finite details of the narration. Like science fiction films that all seem to have someone in them that is completely docile, here in horror there seem to be a lot of identities nominated to be in the medical profession. None of them behave in any way efficient or logical. Why are medical students and doctors always camping? Is there a secret camping bucket list for those that study the field of medicine?
Dissecting the relationships of the six young friends is as messy as a 'Day of Our Lives' script sans the script. Kudos to the writers for trying to make them interesting but I had a serious case of irrelevant information overload in the first half hour. Nothing happens and the bulk of what we see serves no purpose.
For a group of people who claim to be lost, there is no sense of danger. One of the couples even manages a marriage proposal.
In a set up that takes forever and where there are no likable people to care about, the guy that moments ago professed his love, promptly needs to pee. He proceeds to walk so far away from camp that no one hears his screams. And scream he did.
Had the first half of the film entertained the thought of giving us a cast the viewer could connect with, perhaps some form of tension could have been gained. Instead, the film takes on a simple waiting game. We know something is in the wilderness, but we don't care if anyone dies. A plot so weak puts the pacing off its tracks and slows it to a snail's pace.
Performances did not overwhelm me in Feral although some stood out better than others. The cast is full of seasoned actors and actresses, this film should have and could have been good. But, when there's nothing to work with, I guess they did what they could.
This movie is so generic it makes the word generic look bad. Films with unoriginal concepts, themes, and ideas are a dime a dozen and I have no issue with filmmakers treading down well-worn paths. What I do take issue with is formula riddled movies, with nothing to offer.
Case-in-point, a bear trap made an appearance as a prop for a kill scene. It was so predictable however, I wouldn't have been entirely surprised if the honky-tonk music again started up so they could have danced around until it went off. Does no one see bear traps? Are there many bear trap related accidents in bear countries? Someone tell me if you know some statistics.
So with the bad stuff out of the way, I will move onto the things that Feral had going for it. The monsters are exceptionally cool. With effects this good, it's a tragedy the rest of the film didn't pull its sock up. I thought the special effects deserved top marks. The gore and carnage were exceptional when they did make an appearance. In fact, I would go as far as to say that this aspect of the movie outshone the film.
The production company responsible is Alternate Ending Films and having previously seen the film Altitude, it easy to come to the conclusion they like mediocre film.
I give Feral— 2 spectacular monsters out of 5.
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