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Animal (Blu-ray Review)

AnimalScream Factory’s newest original film is a modern dangerous woods creature feature.  Its another film that comes from Chiller TV (As they’ve had plenty of their original films go to Scream Factory for physical media release).  This however first debuted on VOD before making its way to Chiller TV.  The name that first caught my eye when I learned of it was Joey Lauren Adams being in the film and being over the title.  While she’s not just some glorified cameo in the movie, she is kinda wasted.  When I watched the film, another name I recognized was that of Drew Barrymore.  No, she’s not in it, but she was the producer for it.  If you missed the film when it ran on Chiller TV or Video OnDemand, Scream Factory is giving you a chance to just straight up own it with this Blu-ray edition of Animal.

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Film 

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before.  There’s this group of youthful teenager/college age friends.  They consist of two couples and that random fifth wheel.  This group decides they need to get away and escape society for a weekend.  To do so, they go out into nature, into the woods.  Its peaceful, quiet and lets them escape the trappings of technology and pressures of life.  Except, oh yeah, there is a vicious monster on the prowl and its ripping up and mutilating any bodies that tend to frolic in the woods.

Yes, this is an exercise in something we’ve seen a bajillion times.  That’s really not a turnoff, it just is what it is.  The important thing, and something I love with these sorts of things, is seeing how this one stacks up.  What the filmmakers do to try and set themselves apart from all the countless films that came before.  Will Animal ever be brought up in conversation with the likes of the best or “good enough”.

Unfortunately, what Animal has going for it isn’t nearly enough.  There is not a whole lot of depth to this movie at all.  It truly is stock teens going out to the woods and being slaughtered.  The film is done on the super cheap, not a problem, but the structure and way some things are shot make it way too obvious since we’re not connecting or “getting into” any of these characters.

What’s the good?  The creature in this movie is bad ass.  It looks and functions tremendously.  Brett Simmons and company might not have the creature made entirely to perfection as I gathered from some of the shots, but they sure as hell know how to shoot it well and make it very effective when its onscreen.  The sucky thing is that its wasted on this movie.  The “animal” has a great howl and is a savage killer.  It really tears its victims to shreds, and the filmmakers aren’t afraid to let the blood just fly.

If you’re looking for just some hack n’ slash, Animal might be a 50/50 pleaser for you.  If you’re just in it for an awesome creature, you gotta check this out.  But, what the film pretty much winds up being is a generic “also ran” of a teens go get killed in the woods movie.  However, this thing probably works well as one of those flipping through the channels and stop on it in the middle of the movie type pleasures.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (Incorrectly labeled on the box as 1.78:1)

Clarity/Detail:  This digital image is plenty crisp and clear.  Detail runs high as you can see every wrinkle in clothing, grain in wood, smudges, cracks whathaveyou.  Some of the overall appearance comes across as a bit grainy-looking (its not because its digital), due to the more naturally lit sets.

Black Levels:  Blacks are nice and deep.  They shade very well, and there is a nice array of different levels of shadow and darkness.

Color Reproduction:  A green filter lays over most of the film.  Leaf green pops quite well in the early going of the film.  All the other colors in the film appear as solid, dingier renditions of themselves.

Flesh Tones:  Consistent with a greener appearance due to the lens filter.  Moles, nicks, cuts, wrinkles are all visible from any distance.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: This a really solid track that gives a bigger experience to the film.  Jump scares and action sound really good and add to the intensity of the film.  Its a front heavy track that has a nice balance between score, effects and vocals.  There are also some clever volume settings that help to keep the monster’s howl shrieking in your ears and ripping through the 5.1 mix.

Low Frequency Extension:  The monster’s roar gets a bassy rumble.  Beating on walls and jump scares get a good jump from the sub woofer as well.

Surround Sound Presentation:  The rear speakers bring mainly ambiance and score to the table.  You can hear light shrieking coming from them as well.  The front is where the action is and accurate depicts the movements and volume of what is going on onscreen.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Loud and clear.  Very front heavy.

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Extras 

The reverse side of the cover insert features alternate poster art.

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Brett Simmons

Interviews With The Cast (HD, 1:43) – More of a commercial for the film, featuring generic interview stuff from Keke Palmer and Elizabeth Gillies

Behind The Scenes (HD, 3:04) – Basically a long commercial for the film featuring extremely EPK interviews with cast and crew.  You don’t really learn much at all.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:45) 

Teaser Trailer (HD, :32) 

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Summary 

Animal winds up being a so-so, generic stroll through the woods.  But that ho-hum stroll does include an awesome monster and plenty of bloodshed.  Its lacking a lot of substance that could have went quite nicely with the competent direction and production value on display.  This Blu-ray has an excellent presentation of this film.  The video transfer looks great and the audio will rip right through your living room.  The commentary is pretty much your only extra as the “Interviews” and “Behind The Scenes” are completely worthless.  This one may be for those who collect Scream Factory and Shout! titles only, as I would recommend renting this or catching it on Chiller TV before a blind buy.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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