MARCH 25, 2012
It's not uncommon for these RHI productions to use real animals (if they existed; there's no real world equivalent of a Behemoth), so I wasn't surprised to see that the villain in Grizzly Rage was played by an actual bear. Nor was I expecting to see too many shots of him actually chowing down on our actors (three, at most), but at least in Maneater you saw the damn tiger prowling around the actors every now and then. Here, the bear and the humans never ONCE share the frame, even in non-action scenes!
Needless to say, this is a fatal flaw for the movie, though hardly the only one. Our characters are among the dumbest I've ever seen, and I say that with the authority of someone who has watched 2000+ horror movies in a row. At one point they're driving their SUV parallel to a cliff and one of the idiots decides to try to wrestle the wheel away (from the back seat no less) in order to go back for a friend that the bear has already dispatched. Guess what? Their SUV goes over the cliff.
Luckily this is just an inconvenience for them, because this is the most resilient vehicle in movie history - it rams a bear cub, crashes into a tree, goes off a cliff, etc - and is still operable. They use the tow winch to get the thing back up the cliff (not sure this actually possible, but whatever), and apparently invoke some sort of dark magic to re-inflate the tires that we saw flattened by the previous wreck. You see, as with just about everything else in this movie, the accident was just a means of padding the runtime because there's only so many times they can cut to a bear roaring in closeup before cutting to these idiots running, presumably away from the bear that we never in relation to their position.
Wasting time is in fact the MO of the entire movie, particularly with regards to a hunter's shack that they stumble across. One of our characters spends, I'm not exaggerating, five full minutes wandering around the place, investigating every nook and cranny as if he was a detective and this place held the clues he needed to solve some mystery. The owner of the cabin is never shown or mentioned, even though he's got a bunch of traps and other "scary" paraphernalia that suggests an interesting plot twist (or at least a new character that might be tolerable). There's also a swamp filled with toxic waste barrels, which I thought was going to tie into the bear somehow, Prophecy style, but no. It's seen, given a good look by one of our "heroes", and never mentioned again. But hey, another 2-3 minutes of the movie are over! There's also a full length music video, essentially, as some Skillet-esque alt rock song plays in its entirety over shots of our heroes wandering around looking for supplies/help.
With such minimal bear "action", it's actually closer to survival movies like Frozen, except with two key differences. One - the characters there were likable and well rounded, so when they got eaten by wolves or partially, er, frozen, there was some investment for the viewer. No one (intelligent) saw Dan get eaten and said "Finally, something happened!" - they were still wincing from his leg wound. Here, it's not even clear what happens to them when the bear "attacks", because he just growls and maybe swipes a paw and then they're "hurt" or dead of not very well defined injuries. But they must have been major wounds, because we get CGI blood splattered on the lens of the camera, like we're in an arcade shooter.
The other thing Frozen had going for it was a reason for their predicament, i.e. being stuck 50 feet up on a chair lift. We learn early on that jumping to the "soft" snow below doesn't work, so they have to think of other ways. But here - what exactly is keeping them around in the bear's territory? They're not trapped anywhere, only one of them is injured, and they aren't even that far from civilization, since it's daylight when they leave their unnamed major city and it's still daylight when they get to their off-road location, which means that they can't be too far from the "outskirts" of town. Plus it's a bear, it's not going to follow them forever, and it can't exactly sneak up on them.
I should also note the reason that the bear is after them: the idiots kill its cub in the first 10 minutes (more off-screen nonsense). We've been given no reason to like them at any point before this, so any sane person would just be rooting for the bear anyway. Luckily (spoiler) it succeeds; in the film's ridiculous climax, the two survivors lock the bear inside that cabin (after MORE slow speed poking around inside; I swear I know this cabin better than I know my own home at this point) and start to finally walk out of the area, but then the bear busts through the door and kills them both at once. It's hilarious, and even sort of helps make the bear the hero - it's a she, after all, so it's like the Final Girl being nearly killed by the villain, only to find one last surge of strength and take him down as the audience cheers.
So if you want the foundation from which you can make up your own vastly superior movie, like I just did, I highly recommend Grizzly Rage. Otherwise, stick with the totally batshit Bear if you simply MUST watch a movie about a bear seeking vengeance, or Prophecy if you want one where the pollution subplot has a goddamn point, or Brother Bear if you want more horrific violence.
What say you?