Primevil (UK DVD)
Directed by Roel Reiné
Distributed by Revolver Entertainment
Also known as The Lost Tribe in the US, Roel Reiné’s Primevil has quite the tumultuous production history behind it, with two distinct versions of the same film having been made. Originally shot under the direction of director Jorg Ihle and starring Firefly/Serenity’s Jewel Staite, production difficulties and the lack of cast availability for what appeared to be constant reshoots led the producers to follow an almost unprecedented path: Reshoot the entire thing.
So, with the script reworked, a whole new cast was brought on board to bring us this version, Primevil / The Lost Tribe, whilst the original Staite vehicle can be found as The Forgotten Ones or After Dusk They Come in the UK. It’s a wonder why then even bothered, though, considering the first version is actually better than this turgid, derivative approach.
You’ve seen the plot a million times over. A group of friends crash their boat and end up stranded on an island inhabited by a humanoid tribe of monkey-man creatures who lay waste to them. Simples. In this version, though, the filmmakers have thrown in an extra character in the form of Lance Henriksen, who plays a Vatican assassin (eat your heart out, Charlie Sheen!) sent to kill everyone involved in the archaeological/paleontological expedition to locate traces of the creatures (the ruins of which our gang come across), lest they bring back evidence that disproves Creationism. His character is so out of left field and ultimately completely useless that he has no meaning at all – appearing only to shoot a couple of people before dying after what must seriously have amounted to two minutes, tops, of screen time. The entire script is a rush job, and it just can’t hide it.
While the creature design is actually pretty cool, and brought to life with some very nice full body suits and makeup, they don’t nearly get enough action. This flick takes forever to get to the killings, and when it does, they’re as boring as they come. As soon as the group hit the jungle, the flick switches into a brazen Predator rip-off, complete with glowing, heat-based creature POV shots. The majority of the principal cast are offed over the course of around 10 or 15 minutes with woefully little tension, suspense, or genuine craft, leaving the plucky heroine to quite literally “do a Dutch” and discover that the creatures recognise heat signatures and she can remain invisible by covering herself in mud. From there we have monster movie cliché after cliché thrown out, right up to the “might have been something approaching repugnant the first 400 times we saw it” slobbery-monster-licks-girl’s-face shot.
While the original version of the flick had Staite’s final girl try to turn the tables on the creatures by challenging (and ultimately defeating) their Alpha male, here our heroine remains a whimpering victim for pretty much the whole show – only winning the day by faking submission in a disappointing climax that, again, is completely bereft of suspense, surprise, excitement, or anything a good monster/survival flick should inspire.
The creature effects are about the only thing worth noting throughout this whole affair... well, besides the unintentionally hilarious jungle noises which routinely sound like a pack of dogs whimpering. The rest just isn’t worth wasting your time on. The fact that the first attempt at filming this story (which incidentally uses the same creature effects) wasn’t even officially finished and still manages to be a slightly more satisfying piece of work should tell you everything you need to know.
Revolver Entertainment’s DVD release of Primevil is suitably well thought out in the audio department with some nice surround action (if a little overplayed and occasionally too high volume with the ambient jungle noises in the tweeters), but visually it’s not very good at all. The image is muddy and murky with print damage, digital smearing, and poor colour reproduction only serving to make it more of a challenge to watch than the movie itself already is. Perhaps mercifully, the disc is completely bereft of special features.
1/2 out of 5
0 out of 5