Reviewed 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.
1 out of 5
1/2 out of 5
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