Carnivorous (2008)

Carnivorous reviewReviewed by The Foywonder

Starring Leah Rose, Ryan Schaufler, Tom Lodewyck, Matt Ukena, Katy Colloton, Nick Driesson, Edyta Cullen

Written & Directed by Drew Maxwell

Carnivorous is a movie a lot of people will get one eyeful of the green screen visuals in the opening minutes and immediately write-off the film as a whole. I know I have to confess I found looking at the introductory scenes quite jarring due to the sheer fakery of the virtual sets the live actors were walking about. This is not like the hyper-photo-realistic environments of movies like Sin City or the upcoming The Spirit; these green screen environments just looked fake, cheap and fake, and I found it quite off-putting initially. But it would be a shame if viewers didn’t give this movie a chance because the longer it went on the more the look grew on me and the story actually sucked me in a bit. Nothing great. Nothing spectacular. Just an admirably ambitious creature feature that deserves to be given a chance.

I’d akin Carnivorous to being a cross between Saw and a Larry Buchanan 1968 TV monster movie called It’s Alive! that dealt with a madman feeding tourists to an underground cave monster. If Larry Buchanan films are a bit too obscure for you then think of Carnivorous as Saw meets The Descent. There’s a little Midnight Meat Train in there, too. This is another one of those movies where a group of people with no ties to one another and seemingly nothing in common except each has committed some personal sin (a thief, a drug addict, a kid accused of murdering his sister, etc.) awaken in a dank location unsure of how they got there aside from being attacked by someone. The labyrinthian lair they find themselves in have their fair share of traps and the eclectic mix of people are prone to turning on one another. The true threat awaiting them are these monsters that look remarkably similar to the creatures from Alone in the Dark but with more devilish heads boasting glowing eyes and mouths. I think the Carnivorous title is a tad dubious since we never really see these creatures eat anyone.

Carnivorous reviewOne definite upside to the virtual sets is that the computer generated monsters look slightly less phony projected in front of the less-than-realistic green screen environments. I like the design of these demonoid creatures and I ultimately liked the explanation behind them. There’s just no denying that they look totally animated. It really comes down to the lack of fluidity in much of their motion; their movements have the frame-skipping unnaturalness of animation you’d have seen in a Playstation 2 video game cut scene. Like the sets, I was eventually able to look past that aspect as well, but I strongly suspect it’ll be another nail in the coffin for others.

Those that haven’t already fallen prey to the beasts are soon assisted by a sword-wielding man who claims to have been surviving down there for some time after he too found himself down there at the mercy of these unearthly creatures. But can he help them escape or is he just luring them into a greater trap?

I won’t give away anything else because I really do think Carnivorous is a monster movie that’s merits outweigh its negatives and deserves an audience. I’d even argue that some of those negatives I’ve already outlined make it a unique movie amid the usual low budget, B-movie dreck. The only other film I can think of to compare it to is “>Despiser (review), a stylistically similar straight-to-video effort I championed several years back.

Drew Maxwell is the filmmaker behind Carnivorous. His last film was “>Guardians (review), a monster hunting flick with loads of potential that ended up being a disappointment. With Carnivorous it simply comes down to how you react to the look of the computer generated sets and monsters. If you can’t look past them then you’re going to absolutely hate this movie. If you can accept it for what it is and give the story a chance, you might just find yourself pleasantly surprised. Either way, no one can fault Maxwell and company for lack of effort.


3 out of 5

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  • Soundteamllc

    I was at the Shockerfest International Film Festival this year. It is held every year near my home town. (A great fest by the way!) Anyway, I saw Drew Maxwell’s film CARNIVOROUS and loved it! I am not the only one- it was nominated for “BEST FANTASY FILM OF THE YEAR” and the two lead actors were both nominated for “BEST ACTOR”. I say this to prove my point about this film – it is a daring and unique film and I feel that it should be rewarded for its merits. I have heard comments on how the labyrinth dimension looked strange and unreal. It is not trying to be a real place at all, it is a limbo dimension. The characters even talk about it in the film. I am sure that the filmmakers were not trying to make it look real. They were being CREATIVE! It fit the story very well. If you pay any attention it is clear that the creatures, or whom ever created the creatures, created the labyrinth dimension to hunt the people in. When the people were in the real world it was real locations and when the were in the labyrinth dimension it was surreal. I am surprised anybody could miss this point. I loved that the labyrinth dimension had an unearthly, surreal look. I found it very creepy and scary. The world could not have been pulled off by real-world sets and that is what made it so fun to watch- you never knew what could be around the next corner and if you tried to guess you would be wrong. If you don’t like this kind of film- don’t watch it. If you enjoy when filmmakers take risks and are creative for once- I urge you to give it a chance. You might be surprised. To the people who just dismiss the film as ”video game-like,” I feel that you missed the boat here.

    I was really sucked in by the story. It was different and refreshing. I watch tons of horror / thrillers. I am quite tired of the same asian ghost rip-offs and slasher films. Carnivorous is truly a unique film. I commend the story for telling us just enough about the chosen “bad apple” people that were being hunted. letting the viewer come to their own conclusions on why they were there. We never know why Kate (the lead actress) is there. What did she do? Why was she different than all the others? I don’t want to spoil anything for a viewer but she is a character that is a very different person at the end of the story than from the beginning of the film. Changed by what she endured and now is burdened by the truth of the world and with a horrible responsibility that she must take on her shoulders. I found this fascinating. The pace of the story is very fast and never boring.

    Most of the acting was very good. Ryan Schaufler who played ‘Ian’ was great fun to watch. He was insane but not over the top. He felt very real in an unreal world and situation. The creepy kid was a nice touch as it showed how Kate was a good person. She took him under her wing and cared for him regardless of his “bad person” status. I really loved the chemistry of the two lead characters. It was not sexual or buddies. Just respect. I liked it. The fighting was nice as it was never way over the top like so many films these days. No Matrix style bullet-time crap here. Thank you very much.

    The creatures had a great design and were scary for what they were. I would not say that the animated creatures were the best I’ve ever seen in my life but hey come on, this is a low budget film and they matched the world they were from. Once again the filmmakers used what they had and were creative. It makes sense. Trust me I have seen some real crap CGI creatures in films that made these monsters look like gold.

    You have to commend the filmmakers for “going for it” with this type of film on what must have been no real budget. Not an easy task I’m sure. I feel they pulled it off. But I am sure that there will be a lot of people who just can’t get on this ride. It asks you to bring your imagination with you. Unfortunately many people these days have no imagination to speak of and they will be missing out. Therefore, like so many unique films, people will either love Carnivorous or it will not be their cup of tea. I was very refreshed and always entertained by this film and would love to see what the filmmakers could do with a real budget.

    I loved this film!!!!

  • Gus Bjork

    It’s just me but I think anything titled Carnivorous should be about giant man eating plants. I don’t know why.

    It’s been a while since someone did a giant man eating plant movie. You would think, with it’s CGI fetish, the sci-fi channel would do one. Big ol’ giant jungle plants eating explorers under the command of an evil scientist and all that.