Reviewed 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.
One 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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