Animal is the latest offering from director Brett Simmons who previously gave us the 2011 film Husk and last years' The Monkey's Paw. It stars Amaury Nolasco ( Max Payne,Prison Break), Joey Lauren Adams (Mallrats,Chasing Amy,Big Daddy), Jeremy Sumpter (Frailty, Friday Night Lights), Elizabeth Gillies (TV's Victorious), Thorsten Kaye (TV's All My Children, The Bold And The Beautiful), Parker Young (Gingerdead Man 2, Suburgatory), Paul Iacono (The Hard Times Of RJ Berger), Keke Palmer (Tv's Winx Club, 90210) and Eve (XXX, Bounty Killer).
Drew Barrymore is also credited as executive producer.
Five friends go into the woods camping to an isolated area where siblings Jeff and Alissa once frequented as kids. With both their partners and their "fifth wheel" friend Sean in tow, they don't know their way around like they used to and it isn't long before they're lost. As they argue about which way to go they soon find themselves running for their lives as they are hunted by a blood thirsty predator. Lucky for them they come across a cabin in the woods which already has people inside hiding from the same creature, once inside the two groups have to join forces and try to come up with a plan - stay and fight or run for their lives?
Other than the fact that it was produced by Drew Barrymore (which was strange but awesome on her part) the first thing that struck me about Animal was the poster art, it looked really familiar to me and eventually it hit me - John Gulager's Feast! Very similar poster and low and behold, the creature was almost identical. Not that that's a bad thing because I love Feast and its' sequels but this film could almost be mistaken as Feast 4. While Feast had a group of people trapped in a bar in the middle of nowhere trying to survive the night as a gang of monsters try to get in and eat them, Animal has a group of people held up in a cabin in the woods with just one monster trying to get in. Also Feast was riddled with hilarious sick Troma-style humor, non-stop one liners and over-the-top gore - Animal is much more straight-faced and a straight forward horror film but it did have some really nice gore as well. As i'm an old-school kinda guy I would've preferred if the creature was a man in a suit rather than CGI but unlike a lot of films nowadays the CGI creature actually looked really good in this one so all is forgiven. Like most horror movies it has characters that you route for and then the annoying fuckheads you cant wait to see get ripped apart, I wont spoil it for you but ya there is a few casualties.
The cast is fairly solid considering it's made up of mostly TV actors, Prison Break's Amaury Nolasco and Kevin Smith veteran Joey Lauren Adams being the most familiar faces on show. Nickelodeon regular Elizabeth Gillies seems to have come of age since her Victorious days, she turns in a good performance here and I for one would like to see her in more horror films in the future. Production company Chiller Films had a few minor cult hits recently with films such as Remains, Ghoul, Beneath and Chilling Visions:5 Senses Of Fear, I reckon Animal will be they're biggest hit to date. Kudos to them, Drew Barrymore, Brett Simmons and everyone involved as they came up with a thoroughly enjoyable creature feature that is bound to be a hit on DVD and might even gather enough of a following to get a sequel made.