JANUARY 29, 2009
Horror Movie A Day will be celebrating its 2 year anniversary next week, which means I’ve watched nearly 800 movies (factoring in all of the times I watched two movies for the day). And out of all of those, never did I come as close to just shutting a movie off and watching something else as I did with Animals, a yet-to-be-released atrocity that will hopefully never find a sod stupid enough to put money into distributing it.
(Note - a lot of my problems with the movie, i.e. the editing and camerawork, are really hard to explain in words, so bear with me if the review doesn't quite do justice to this movie's ineptitude.)
I can only pray that the book (by John Skipp and Craig Spector) that the movie is based on is at least interesting on some level. It’s a silly premise (basically, a love triangle between three shapeshifters), but if it has well drawn characters and exciting setpieces it could definitely be enjoyable. The movie offers neither of those things, only wholly incompetent filmmaking. Director Douglas Aarniokoski (who previously helmed the “how did this manage to get a theatrical release?” Highlander: Endgame) clearly has zero understanding how to structure a scene or compose a shot (though DP Matthew Williams - who is ironically the DP of Plan 10 From Outer Space - is just as much to blame in that area). I had no idea what was going on during several of the action scenes, though after a while I didn’t care either.
Aarniokoski also films the entire movie hand-held, which is almost impressive when you consider that the film has zero of the energy or excitement that usually comes along with this filmmaking style. Even the sex scenes, which feature Nicki Aycox topless, aren’t even remotely titillating. And that’s a major problem when the story is supposed to be showing us what it’s like when people give into their carnal urges and all that crap. Shouldn’t I be watching the movie and going “Holy shit! I wish I could turn into an animal and kill my asshole boss and then fuck the shit out of the hot girl from Jeepers Creepers 2 on the hood of my car”? Yes, but instead, I keep finding myself staring at the “time remaining” display.
Worse than the camerawork is the editing. Someone had the genius idea to constantly re-use shots while putting them in slo-mo, an idiotic “style” that wears out its welcome after the 3rd or 4th of its 100 appearances in the 90 minute film. It’s also one of those movies where they cut back and forth between like 5 minutes of time (so instead of an A-B-C-D-E-F sequence of events, it goes A-C-B-E-D-F) and toss in flashbacks to footage we just saw whenever a character is “thinking”. In short - the movie is all over the place. Aarniokoski used a pseudonym, so maybe he's not happy with it either, but assuming its the usual reason (post production tinkering), it doesn't change the fact that it's just terribly shot to begin with.
But the real killer is that it takes itself seriously, so it’s not even enjoyably bad like House of the Dead or whatever. You’d think a bad movie about people who fuck and turn into animals would be a laugh riot, but I was stone cold silent for almost the entire thing. The one exception: at one point a girl walks up to a bathroom and slips on the blood coming from under the door. In theory, that’s fine. But there’s a rug in the hallway, leaving only about 8 inches of hard floor for her to slip on, so she “slips” after just her toe touches the blood. Not only did I laugh, I rewound it to watch it again so I could say I laughed twice.
There is, however, the matter of Naveen Andrews’ performance. I am not familiar enough with his work to know if he’s aware how bad the movie is and is playing his role with a wink in his eye, or if he’s legitimately trying to be a badass. I know he CAN be a badass (check out his fight with Keamy on the S4 finale of Lost), but he’s just laughably cheesy here, snarling and growling before the blue CGI ghost thing that’s supposed to be a werewolf (it looks like an evil version of Jack Skellington’s dog) takes over for him. Man, I love Lost more than almost anything, but between this, Speed Racer (Matthew Fox), The Fog (Maggie Grace), Pulse (Ian Somerhalder), and Deck The Halls (Jorge Garcia), I am starting to fully appreciate the fact that the Hawaii shooting location severely limits the number of terrible movies these folks can make.
Back to the CGI ghost wolves - you’d think that they could at LEAST come up with different animals for them to turn into (you know, since the movie is called ANIMALS and not WOLF-TYPE THINGS), but both Andrews’ and Marc Blucas’ “animal forms” look identical, rendering their big battle at the end rather pointless, since you can never tell who has the upper hand. It culminates with Blucas repeating a line Andrews had previously directed at him: “You have no idea what you stuck your dick into.” Now, when Andrews said it earlier in the film, he is referring to Aycox, who Blucas has been fucking (which is how he got his animal power). It’s also the closest thing to a good line in the entire movie. But when Blucas says it back as a one-liner before killing Andrews, it doesn’t make any fucking sense, because Aycox’s character (the only thing the two have in common) had nothing to do with their fight. It makes it sound like Andrews stuck his dick into Blucas.
What else is terrible... well, the music for one thing. It’s all generic techno bullshit, and doesn’t fit the onscreen action or mood at all. Blucas also has an annoying narration (“This is Jane, a friend. Everyone hits on her, but she turns them down. We’ve never been down that road.”), which is especially annoying when they cut from his narration to Andrews’ voice-over (a byproduct of the criss-cross editing). There’s also a subplot about Blucas’ murdered boss that goes absolutely nowhere.
I honestly cannot understand what drew anyone to this movie. Who could read this script and think ‘Yes, I want to be in the Animals business.’ Blucas is always appearing in garbage, but what’s everyone else’s excuse? And who put the money up for this thing in the first place? God, people PLEASE: stop making such atrocious and unappealing shit! Don’t forget: every time someone makes a shitty horror movie, an angel is sodomized.
What say you?