Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Bethany Davis, Brian Girard, Sean Brennan, Jack Grigoli, Popeye Fontaine
Written and Directed by Steffen Schlachtenhaufen
Distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment
"Will you live to tell the legend" is the catchphrase that adorns the DVD cover art for Primal. A better question to ask would have been "Will you last long enough to finish the movie?" The plot never gets any deeper or more complex than people venturing into the woods and getting killed by Bigfoot. To be fair, this could still make for an entertaining movie if the filmmakers made the characters compelling, the monster scary, and/or the attacks spectacular. Primal strikes out on all three fronts. Add in how incredibly cheap looking the movie is and you have yourself a homerun of suckage.
After an opening where Bigfoot kills some random hikers, we’re then introduced to a whole new team of backpackers: eight totally unconvincing environmental surveyors who’ve been ordered to head into a protected part of the wilderness by the oil & gas company they're working for. At least I think they worked for an oil & gas company; most of them complain about oil companies exploiting nature even though that's exactly who they appear to be working for. This would be like complaining about Japanese whalers being barbaric even as you work as a spotter for the guys manning the harpoon.
Their team leader's pep talk to get them to trek into these federal woodlands consists of enticing them by saying they'll be hiking through a section of wilderness "that no human has ever touched". That’s rather amusing given how many other folks turn up there.
Such as an engaged couple meeting with the wife's ranger brother, the only park ranger in the area who lives like a hermit in an outpost deep in the woods. He knows more about Bigfoot than he initially lets on. He also gives off the vibe of a disturbed loner. These three do little except sit around and chitchat until they finally get actively involved in the film’s finale.
And just for the hell of it, toss in a couple low-life criminals prowling the woods up to whatever in order to pad out the film a few more minutes.
Lots of walking through the woods, running through the woods, sitting around in the woods, sitting around a cabin talking, laying around in tents talking - you know, all the good stuff audiences crave when watching a movie set in the woods.
As far as cinematic Sasquatch goes, Primal's homicidal hairy hominid looks like something that would have fit right in on "Land of the Lost" - 30 years ago! Actually, another 1970's Sid & Marty Krofft kiddy show comes to mind when seeing this creature costume: “Bigfoot & Wildboy”. It really does look like the Bigfoot suit from that TV show but with the more fanged face of Toho's version of King Kong. It's far more likely to generate eye-rolling than fear.
And Bigfoot’s motives for killing everyone that enters his woods: because that's how he rolls.
And how does he kill? Thanks to the misguided direction, in the most annoying manner possible. Funky camera filters. Hyperactive editing. Plenty of shaky cam. It's all shot in such a disorienting fashion you can barely comprehend what is happening. Then again, not much is happening because mostly all we see are POV shots panning upwards at the monster as it stands over the camera slashing away at the lens. Almost every single kill scene is filmed in this manner making the very scenes that are ultimately the whole reason why this movie exists in the first place every bit as monotonous as every other aspect of the film.
Anytime Bigfoot appears the cinematography gets funky and the editing turns schizophrenic in a failed attempt to be stylish. They'll even put fake scratches on the picture as if to evoke an 8mm or some sort of grindhouse feel; silly considering the movie looks to have been shot on digital. None of the overcompensating yet underwhelming camera tricks work to their intended effect.
Whatever would possess Lionsgate or any other reputable DVD company to distribute a film as borderline a backyard production as Primal is is beyond me. This is a creature feature stripped to its barest of bones devoid of a compelling monster, any reason to identify or sympathize with its characters, anything remotely interesting going on, or even some halfway decent monster mayhem. About the only entertainment value stemming from this pointless movie is the laughability of the Bigfoot suit.
Okay; I'll them points for the clever closing credits showing the cast members and who they played in the form of missing persons posters. That's about as creative as Primal ever got. But will you last 'til the end?
1/2 out of 5
0 out of 5
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