Directed by Andrew Traucki
Distributed by Entertainment One
Andrew Traucki’s previous man vs. nature thrillers Black Water and The Reef did not try to reinvent the genre, but they didn’t play out in a manner so stale it threatens to grow mold either. The same cannot be said for his latest, and the reason why can be blamed almost entirely on the style of film he’s chosen to make.
The Jungle is as generic a found footage movie as its simplistic title implies. I almost hesitate to even call this a movie. It’s more of a template playing out before your eyes, a premise so enslaved by the mechanics of its format the central story idea never develops past the embryonic stage.
An Australian leopard conservationist and his team trek deep into the Indonesian jungle in pursuit of a rare leopard being threatened by poachers. Before long they’re the ones being threatened by an inhuman predator.
The nature of this beast is ultimately irrelevant because the mythology behind it is merely a means to an end. As is so often the case with this type of exploration-gone-bad found footage flick, you’re left with more questions than answers, and the “it” terrorizing them will remain unseen until the film’s final seconds, when you’ll still only get a fleeting glimpse. Leaving the scares up to the viewer’s imagination isn’t very effective when the presentation is so unimaginative.
Anyone who knows me knows I’ve never been much of a fan of the found footage genre for precisely the reasons I found The Jungle so tiresomely by-the-numbers.
Let’s take a moment to count down those numbers, shall we?
1) Introduce the characters and set up what little plot there is. Include an ominous warning of things to come.
2) Everything seems to be going as planned except for a few moments of innocuous weirdness.
3) Weirdness escalates into threatening sights and sounds.
4) Arguing and in-fighting.
5) Something unseen attacks in bursts of shaky-cam chaos.
6) Someone pleads they get the hell out of there but can’t because they’re either trapped, refuse to leave behind a missing person, or the stubborn person in charge insists they push forward.
7) Remaining characters’ fate is sealed in an explosion of shaky-cam chaos. Roll credits.
I’m not spoiling anything to reveal it ends badly for those involved because The Jungle adheres so strictly to the formula it even opens with text informing viewers that this footage discovered in the jungle is all that remains of the expedition. Is there any other genre aside from found footage that so frequently gives away the ending before the movie even begins?
Maybe if The Jungle had been released in 2011, when the opening text states the events of the video were recorded, it wouldn’t have felt like the latest rehash of a played out format. Today in 2014, the best I can say is that it’s marginally more competently assembled than many other hastily cranked out found footage movies of recent years. But it stills feels like it rolled right off of an assembly line.
2 out of 5
0 out of 5