Animals (DVD)

Animals ReviewReviewed by The Foywonder

Starring Marc Blucas, Nicki Aycox, Naveen Andrews, Eva Amurri, Andy Comeau

Directed by Arnold Cassius

Distributed by Maverick Entertainment Group

Animals appears to exist for the sole purpose of making us all realize we were a little too hard on Blood & Chocolate. Heck, even Skinwalkers was better than this. Animals is based on Craig Spector and John Skipp’s 1993 novel. I’ve never read it. I hear it’s good. It has to be better written than the movie they’ve made out of it. I would hope so.

You want bad direction? We can start with criminal overuse of what the director surely must have thought was stylish slow motion and then move on to the occasional distracting use of handicam that left me confused as to whether he was making the camera jiggle on purpose for stylistic reasons or if he just couldn’t keep his hands still. This is only just the bad directing from a purely technical standpoint. From a director whose greatest achievement was Highlander: Endgame, folks.

You want heinous dialogue? “You have no idea what you’ve stuck your dick into.” Is that bad enough for you?

Bad acting? Animals stars “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” alumnus Marc Blucas. Sooner or later someone in Hollywood is going to figure out that Marc Blucas just doesn’t cut it as a movie leading man. Wooden acting abounds here, none more likely to attract termites than Blucas’ special brand of monotone.

Blucas stars as a dimwitted ex-jock toiling away by day working at a cement plant banging concrete with a sledgehammer in slow motion and by night hangs out in a bar drowning his sorrows and not picking up on the vibe that his long-time female waitress friend (Eva Amurri, most famously naked on “Californication”) is madly in love with him. Looking like a sluttier version of Olivia Newton John at the end of Grease, Nicki Aycox wanders into the pub one night coming across like a hooker who has already had a particularly rough evening and promptly seduces the blue-collar dolt in front of the lovelorn bar maiden.

The two of them go back to his place for the dullest, least erotic rough sex seen on film in quite a while, and then he wakes up the next morning infected with a little something she gave him. Remember that old anti-AIDS PSA where the guy wakes up after a one-night stand and finds an ominous message left for him on his bathroom mirror? I would have so loved it if Blucas had awoken the next morning with no sign of Aycox except for the note she left behind scribbled in lipstick on his bathroom mirror reading “WELCOME TO THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF LYCANTHROPY”.

For a mainstream movie striving for a level of sexual explicitness not seen since the heyday of Joe Ezsterhas, the groin-grinding certainly leaves an awful lot to be desired. Blucas and Aycox will go on to have a fully naked humpfest on the kitchen counter and another on the hood of a parked car in a dark alley amid a driving rain storm; both times they are so devoid of sex appeal I wished Andrew Stevens and Shannon Tweed would appear to show these kids how it’s done.

Naveen Andrews of “Lost” does his best to breathe some menacing life into his one-dimensional role as the dangerously jealous lycan that sired Aycox, isn’t too keen on letting her get away from his clutches, and wastes no time raping her and dumping her naked into a holding cell the first chance he gets. Just to make sure we fully understand what a villain he is, we’ll watch him kill several random people en route to the small town Aycox has fled to. Life saving tip: If you work in a convenience store, never refuse service to a werewolf. Trust me on this one.

Every key aspect of the story goes grossly underdeveloped. Why should I care if Blucas chooses Aycox or Amurri when I don’t buy into either relationship and he’s a whiny moron with the personality of plywood to begin with? The whole subtext about one giving in to their animalistic side is rendered irrelevant since Blucas’ transformation is treated as almost a non-factor until it comes time for him to use his powers for the final showdown with Andrews.

I keep referring to them as lycans and werewolves even though they’re not really in the conventional sense. Their nature is treated more as a genetic anomaly than a supernatural conceit. You know they’re about to transform when they develop blue-shot eyes and we are treated to their blue point-of-view. Their fingernails turn claw-like, teeth become fangs, and their faces develop an animalistic quality – no fur though. That is all we get for most of the movie, and believe me when I tell you that is better than when we do see them fully morphed into what I can only describe as smoky, blurry, translucent blue, digital jackals. Not just the worst, cheapest looking animality computer effects since Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, the computer effects in the typical Syfy monster flick is Avatar quality by comparison. This was pathetic.

There are really only three reasons for anyone to ever want to watch Animals:

1) You’re desperate to see Nicki Aycox or Marc Blucas naked.

2) The crude visual effect shot of Naveen Andrews getting thrown out a window that made me laugh out loud.

3) If you’ve always wondered what a werewolf would look like in the world of Tron – the 1982 Tron.

As far as specials features go, we’re spared having to suffer through any save for a few trailers.

Special Features

  • Trailers
  • Film

    1 out of 5

    Special Features

    1/2 out of 5

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    • Sirand

      Fun fact: Director “Arnold Cassius” is Douglas Aarniokoski, Robert Rodriguez’s second-unit director who somehow graduated to director and made the equally-bad Highlander: Endgame.

    • Vanvance1

      As a huge fan of Skipp & Spector I regard ‘Animals’ as one of their weaker efforts. Mind you, S&S at their weakest are far better than most horror writers at their best.

      It’s hugely depressing to read this review and know it’s likely true. I also know I’ll end up watching this anyway, but at least now I have lowered expectations.

    • Terminal

      Does Eva Amurri get nekkid here?
      “We are bad guys. That means we’ve got more to do other than bullying companies. It’s fun to lead a bad man’s life.”

      • Rob

        Yes, but it’s done in that way where you only see the side of her ass. Marc Blucas’ hands and elbows keep blocking her breasts.

        • Terminal

          Well then I’ll save my time. Thanks!
          “We are bad guys. That means we’ve got more to do other than bullying companies. It’s fun to lead a bad man’s life.”

          • Rob

            You should just watch the scene where Naveen Andrews is ranting about some shit that I don’t remember, and then he punches the dashboard, and then they replay it in slow motion at the same angle and everything, just a bit close up. Seriously, awesome stuff.

            And speaking of bad werewolf movies, wait till Dark Moon Rising/Wolf Moon comes out. Holy crap.

            • Terminal

              Hahaha, wow that sounds royally awful. I see enough crap, I’ll take your word for it.
              “We are bad guys. That means we’ve got more to do other than bullying companies. It’s fun to lead a bad man’s life.”

            • Foywonder

              Nothing tops repeated slow motion shots of a sledgehammer cracking rocks.

              The more I think about it the more I think a 1 Knife rating was too generous by at least half a knife.

            • Rob

              I know, for real. The more I think about it the more I think this movie makes Skinwalkers and Blood and Chocolate look like Dog Soldiers by comparison. This one was the one that made me stop anticipating werewolf movies, since they’re basically the most fucked subgenre out there now.

              And the ‘suprise’ ending when one of them jumps out at the end, who the fuck was that supposed to even be?

        • Foywonder

          Not to mention their sex scene is shot with enough lens flares to even make JJ Abrams yell, “Enough already!”

    • Rob

      I’m one of the people who read the book and oh man was this a fucking travesty to sit through.

      One of the things I really liked about the book was that each werewolf looked different when they transformed; it was supposed to be a representation of themselves. Vic, Naveen Andrews’ character was described like this giant lycanthropic Uruk-hai or something, more demonic than lupine, and then Marc Blucas turned into a much more wolf-like creature. So seeing what they did on screen just made me want to smash my face through the TV screen.

      Naveen and Nicki really tried, I thought, and it’s a shame too because if they’d kept the characters the same as they were in the books, I thought those two would’ve knocked it out of the park. They really fit the book versions of the characters quite well, it’s too bad that’s not what this was. This really was worse of a book-raping than Blood and Chocolate. This took a simple plot with really well-drawn out characters and just took an AVP/AVP-R level shit on it.

      To be honest, I think Werewolf The Devil’s Hound was better than Animals, since at least I could laugh at that.