Primal (2010) - This is an Australian film about a group of 20 somethings on an excursion in the outback. One of the group, Dace the alpha male is an anthropology student who wants to write his thesis on a Cave painting that they are looking for. The early scenes are the typical getting there mild character developing scenes you would expect in this kind of film, but they add an early spoiler. There is the alpha male Dace (Wil Traval) Is his name real or is he advertising his willingness to go anywhere for a job?, free spirited horny blond Mel (Krew Boylan), her stoic boyfriend geek Chad (Lindsay Farris), funny guy Warren(Damien Freeleagus), Plain Jane, Kris (Rebekah Foord) and finalgirl Anja (Zoe Tuckwell-Smith). I am not giving away anything sharing she is the final girl as it is so obvious from the beginning. The research to find this place included a story about a group that found the painting 120 years earlier. It was a tragic story where death was the main result. Unfortunately they reveal one of the victims as a little girl with a mouth full of really sharp teeth. What do you think of early reveals? So we sort of know a piece of the story something turned the little girl into the "primal" girl we see. Does that add suspense or make you think you now know what is going to happen in the film?
As they search there is a shortcut through a cave that allows us to find a bit out about one of the characters and to set up something else. Anja is afraid to walk through the cave and has a panic attack before slamming into a wall in her rush to get back out, the blood she draws from hitting the wall has a very pointed affect on the cave and some water nearby. It seems it may have awakened something that was sleeping. The problem with most of the set up of this film is that it was so ham handed that you did not have to do any thinking about it. Its more a shout at the audience to notice this or notice that. It is not just this instance but repeatedly the cause and effect of the set up was just way too obvious. So Anja drives an extra half day or whatever to get around the mountain instead of going through, well most of their stuff was in the damn car anyway so what were they going to accomplish by going through the cave? Then because there is a car near camp there has to be a way to not have it be an escape route when the shit hits the fan. So there is a clumsy attempt to make that happen. I did get an Aussie term to use forever though, I will now call mosquitoes "mozzies". I really hope it is a real term.
After the camping character development scenes we finally get to the juice in this fruit. It takes a while but once the fun begins it is worth it. After a late night dip in the earlier discussed reactionary water, Mel gets sick and feverish and the group figures out how to handle the situation. Alpha male is all, well alpha male but his approach seems to be the correct one. They see because of earlier hints that the car is not functional so they take care of her and wait until morning. Unfortunately for the group overnight she is transformed into primal creature and we all get to see the better part of this film. It turns very quickly into a survival film. She is wild with a set of pearly whites to die from and ready to eat the raw flesh of her friends. Her superhuman resistance to pain and amazing new strength make her more than a match for her five friends. When we see her take out a deer and eat it we know just how primal she really is. The interesting part happens when she throws most of the carcass into the cave they all passed through and we the audience get to see it get quickly digested. So like the lead in suggested so bluntly there is a creature in the cave.
Now at this point the comparison to "The Ruins" must be made. In it a group of ruin seeking 20 somethings get more than they were looking for when they come across a plant monster in the ruins. Locals not wanting the dangerous plant from spreading out into the world trap them there as infected. They plant monster mimics cell phones and voices to capture its hiker prey. It is a really pretty hopeless and depressing film where a whole bunch of sitting around happens for 95% of the film. This film on the other had creates a similar situation with a variation that leads to action. Here Mel becomes the maneuverable arm of the monster in the cave. She can go around and get and bring back food for it. No slow vines in the leg while you sleep, instead there is a super strong mouth full of fangs coming for the cast. It is a cool idea but unfortunately the film mostly falls on old tropes to move the plot along.
1. They come up with a plan to capture Mel.
2. The boyfriend demise because he thinks he can reason with her.
3. The thing we need to deal with her is in the car.
4. I can't find it in the car and danger is closing in.
5. Kill me before I turn.
Its a shame because the post effected part of the movie is done well enough to keep you involved and caring. Each trope though makes you groan as it slides towards cliche. At the end you even get a false ending and a final battle that is decent but no more or less than what you expecting. Now that the film has been properly hammered in this review, it will get a recommend, why? because it is passable, not good per say but a fun ride if you can get by the same old expectation, the action is fresh and effective and compared to The Ruins, slow train to know where this is a wonderful amusement park ride to adventure. So some credit to director Josh Reed.
Rating (5.1) 5.0 and up are recommended, in the Zombiegrrlz system Rent It!