In the world of CGI, it is rare to find a good horror movie that relies simply on good practical effects. In a world where people will see a movie that dares to put a man in a rubber suit to play the monster and consider it a bad movie, it is rare to see a throwback monster movie. Luckily, there is the independent film scene and there is Scream Factory to give us some of these low budget, practical effects, man in a rubber suit horror movies.
Animal is in no way a great movie. However, it is a fun little horror movie by the same production company that brought us Beneath. Just like how Beneath brought us an incredibly creative animatronic water monster to terrorize the kids on the lake, Animal brings us a man in a monster suit that is just incredibly creative to terrorize the kids in the woods. With that said, the two movies share a lot in common – taking a group of individuals and putting them in danger where they are as likely to kill each other as they are to get eaten by the animal.
Animal starts out with a group of four people running through the woods, with someone in pursuit. It catches the woman in the back, and kills her as the other three watch in horror. We then flip to a scene where a group of five kids are on their way to a day trip to the woods. This group gives us all the stereotypes. There is the smart, athletic girl and her boyfriend, a slightly dim jock. The smart girl has a brother who is both very cocky and capable. He has a girlfriend, who takes on the role of the bitchy “cheerleader” type of character. Finally, we get the fifth wheel, a very gay male character.
Now, don’t take me pointing out the stereotypes to be a bad thing. This movie knows what it is doing and these stereotypes are here to, in at least three of the cases, play the characters against the expectations. Anyway, the five end up staying in the woods for too long thanks to some annoying sibling bickering and end up not getting back to their car before dark. That is when the animal returns and they are chased through the woods, just like the four people at the start.
As with most good horror movies, the most capable and heroic character dies first and the other four find a house in the woods where they happen to run across the three people from earlier in the movie. It is here that they learn that the creature knows this house well and has been trying to get in ever since trapping these three there. To make things worse, one of the three in the house believes it might be better to sacrifice some of the kids if it means escaping himself.
The cast isn’t bad and everyone holds their own pretty well. A couple of the kids are a little rough around the edges, but honestly, they did a fine job with the roles they were given. The big selling point here is the animal, which is all big teeth and angry squeals. Some might find it too “fake” but the charm of a man in a monster suit makes this movie all kinds of fun. It is a perfect movie for a Friday night with a case of beer.
The Animal special features don’t account to much outside of the commentary track. There is a series of short interviews with the cast and a behind the scenes feature that is about two minutes each. There is also the theatrical and teaser trailer. The commentary didn’t work on my computer, but it did work in my Blu-ray player. Anyway, director Brett Simmons did the commentary track by himself and starts off talking about how this movie reminded him of an 80s horror movie from the time he read the script. It is an easy listen and it is clear than Simmons loves the horror movie genre, which is obvious while watching the movie.