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Brett Simmons
Joey Lauren Adams, Elizabeth Gillies, Paul Iancono, Eve Jeffers, Thorsten Kaye, Amaury Nolasco, Keke Palmer, Jeremy Sumpter, Parker Young
Writing Credits:
Thommy Hutson and Catherine Trillo

When plans for a weekend getaway hit a dead end, a group of close-knit friends finds themselves stranded in unfamiliar territory, pursued by a menacing, bloodthirsty predator. Holed up in an isolated cabin, they turn on one another as tensions mount and long-buried secrets are revealed. But when the body count rises, the group must put their differences aside and fight for survival.

Not Rated

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA Stereo
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 82 min.
Price: $19.97
Release Date: 2/17/2015

• Audio Commentary with Director Brett Simmons
• Cast Interviews
• Behind the Scenes Featurette
• Trailers


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Animal [Blu-Ray] (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 25, 2015)

When I took a look at the credits for 2014’s Animal, I found a name that surprised me. That’d be “Executive Producer: Drew Barrymore”. A viable candidate for “America’s Sweetheart” played a part in the creation of a low-budget horror flick? How could I resist?

A group of 20-something-year-old friends take a camping trip in a remote area. When they arrive, they discover a roadblock and a prohibition due to “forest regeneration”.

Rather than abandon plans, they hike to their destination – and encounter terror along the way. Some mysterious creature hunts them and forces them into a remote cabin, where they find others who wound up there due to the threat. All involved join forces to attempt to survive this monster.

Horror movies that involve attractive young people stalked/trapped in the outdoors long ago fell into the realm of cliché. 2012’s entertaining Cabin in the Woods played on that tired theme, so some of its pleasures derived from its Scream-style self-awareness.

Animal lacks such obvious knowledge of itself. I’m sure the filmmakers understand they walk down an oft-trodden path here, but the movie itself doesn’t nod at the audience in the same way as Cabin.

Maybe that’s a good thing, as too many spoofs can become tedious. That said, the self-seriousness with which Animal approaches the material doesn’t work either, especially given the lackluster nature of the end product.

Animal offers one of those movies where you’ll probably never remember the names of any of the characters. Sometimes I wasn’t sure that we ever learned some of these monikers, but even when I know we got the names, they didn’t stick. The roles seem so generic and forgettable that the viewer lacks a compelling reason to remember any of the participants.

Or the action, for that matter. So much of Animal feels like material we’ve seen elsewhere that the movie doesn’t create a personality of its own. In particular, a heavy Alien influence pervades the story, but other nods occur as well. I don’t expect a horror flick circa 2014 to offer something completely fresh, but I’d like its references to seem less obvious – and for the movie to do more with them.

That’s the main problem with Animal: it simply lacks much tension/horror. Characters get attacked, violence ensues – and we don’t care. The action fails to deliver visceral thrills and relies on graphic gore to do the work. This doesn’t succeed, and the end result feels uninspiring.

Add inconsistent pacing and mediocre performances to the pile and Animal ends up as a flat horror film. I enjoy the “monster attack” topic when done well, but this one can’t bring anything exciting to the genre.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus C+

Animal appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Overall, this became a satisfying presentation.

Sharpness came across well. Any softness tended to be minor and infrequent, so the end product delivered solid delineation. I saw no signs of jaggies or shimmering, and edge haloes remained absent. No print flaws could be found either.

Colors tended toward a teal/greenish tint. This could appear artificial but the tones worked fine within the movie’s design choices. Blacks were fine, as they seemed reasonably dense, and shadows showed reasonable clarity. In the end, the image looked positive.

I also felt pleased with the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, though I couldn’t call it great. While the soundscape offered reasonable breadth, the elements didn’t combine in an especially immersive manner. Different components cropped up around the room in logical spots but movement and integration weren’t as strong as I’d like. Still, these pieces gave the soundfield reasonable involvement and kick.

Audio quality seemed fine. Speech was fairly distinctive and lacked notable flaws like crackling, while music showed pretty good range and clarity. Effects came across as dynamic and full, with powerful low-end when necessary. I liked this track well enough for a “B”.

As we move to extras, we locate an audio commentary from director Brett Simmons. He brings us a running, screen-specific look at story/character areas, cast and performances, sets and locations, effects, music, editing and cinematography, influences and related topics.

Across the board, Simmons brings us a good look at the film. He covers the appropriate domains and does so in a concise, involving manner. Simmons discusses the flick in a logical way and turns this into a useful chat.

Under Cast Interviews, we find a whopping one minute, 43 seconds of comments. We hear from actors Keke Palmer and Elizabeth Gillies as they tell us a little about their characters – very little, that is. This is an advertisement and nothing more.

In addition to teaser and theatrical trailers, we locate a Behind the Scenes Featurette. This lasts three minutes, four seconds and features comments from Simmons, writer/producer Thommy Hutson, producer Zach O’Brien, and actors Thorsten Kaye, Joey Lauren Adams, Amaury Nolasco, Eve Jeffers, Jeremy Sumpter. The show goes over story elements as well as creature design. One or two decent thoughts about the monster emerge, but this remains another promo piece.

A hackneyed horror flick without originality, Animal seems as generic as its title. Whatever suspense it could muster fails to emerge due to its thin story and forgettable characters/situations. The Blu-ray comes with good picture and audio as well as supplements highlighted by an informative commentary. Animal ends up as a subpar attempt at terror.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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