Damn near every Australian horror film I see these days tends to be really good. Grant it, there are the occasional duds (Crush, Damned by Dawn and Road Train immediately come to mind)...but, for the most part, Australia cranks out some quality horror. Film Deviant may very well do a spotlight on Australian horror in the near future. In the meantime...there's the 2010 film, Primal.
Not a great film...but, not a bad one, either. It's a film full of potential but, marred by unfortunate flaws and unoriginal decisions that keep the film from ever reaching any kind of greatness. I ended up liking the film...but, I really wanted to love it. You can tell that Primal was made with quite a bit of love and appreciation for much better classics. There are usually two types of "love-letter" films made...the one that creates its own world that pays tribute to the films before it...and the one that becomes a blatant unrelenting tugfest that fails to create anything truly original. This one is an example of the latter. I couldn't help to think...Demons, Evil Dead, Cabin Fever and even The Ruins while I was watching it. The influences become so obvious and therefore muddles the film in complete predictability. BUUUUTTTT......I liked it.
The film begins some 12,000 years ago as a caveman draws up some cave paintings in which to communicate the presence of an evil entity. The scene doesn't end too well for the poor caveman...but, it sets up the premise for a group of friends in the present day outback who travel out to the ancient ruins in search of a good memorable time...you know...kinda like The Ruins. The film even has a descendant of an earlier explorer who discovered the paintings long ago who summoned this evil force and was never heard from again....you know...kinda like Evil Dead 2.
Primal doesn't really allow you to care for the characters...in fact, it kind of makes you want them all to die. Maybe it's just me...but, I like a film with good character development that allows you to relate to the plight of the characters in peril in such a way that you feel every bit of emotion in midst of the horror being played out all around. This film doesn't do that...so, you don't feel bad for the blonde slutty girl who dives into a murky lake naked only to be covered in leeches. Instead, you think...HAHA, YOU STUPID BITCH!
By the by, allow me to introduce the clichéd cast. You have the silly cynical wise-cracker, the afore-mentioned blonde slutty girl, the smart girl who happens to be the descendant of the explorer, the dippy girl that only cares about the handsome meat head, the handsome meat head that doesn't have a clue about common sense and the quiet sensitive guy that ends up kicking some ass in the name of his possessed blonde slutty girlfriend. Did I miss anyone? Meh...it doesn't really matter because we don't invest anything in these characters and, instead, opt to play the "guess who's gonna die next" game, which happens quite frequently in films without any real character depth.
So, anyway...someone gets themselves possessed or infected or undead or whatever the fuck they're calling it these days and ends up losing her teeth only to be replaced by rows of razor sharp fangs...you know...kinda like Demons. A fun gory time ensues and we are treated to a sort of horror redundancy where the evil possessed "friend" runs around the woods trying to kill each of the rest of the crew. Soon it just becomes an everyone for themselves affair and the film sort of derails into tentacle porn and demon sex.
For his first feature outing, director Josh Reed doesn't do a bad job with the early pacing of the film and most of the tension in the scenes of dread. In fact, I would only expect him to learn from this ordeal and make better films in the future. Aside from really silly-looking CGI...the film doesn't look bad. The practical gory F/X and the pacing is what kept me watching and ultimately enjoying the ride. Even if it was a bumpy ride that ended up crashing into a tree...it was still a fun ride.
After the film was over I ended up going to bed and going about the next day just like any other ordinary day. Primal didn't remain in my thoughts and even now as I write this review for the film...I'm having a hard time remembering the details. Because, well, it wasn't all that memorable...except for the killer demon bunny. That thing was memorable. I wish the film had more killer demon bunnies in it. That might've scored the film a little higher. But, as much crap as I give Primal...in the end, it's a gory good time vapid of any real depth or originality. I'll recommend it as a good horror fix if you're in search of something that doesn't require any real thought or emotion.
Thanks for reading,