Thursday, October 14, 2010
You may recall my assertion there aren’t that many great werewolf movies. Today we have another contender, the 2008 film Animals. Will it crack my all-time list?
Jarrett (Marc Blucas, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) is a former football star who had his dreams crushed by a knee injury, forcing him to return to his hometown, Clayton Valley. There he works in construction for an overbearing boss and forgets his troubles each night at his friend’s bar. Vic (Naveen Andrews) and Nora (Nicki Aycox) are two transients, moving around the country by car. Nora wants to escape from Vic, but he always tracks her down.
As you can probably guess, Vic is a werewolf, and Nora is infected as well. She manages to elude him and ends up in dear old Clayton Valley, where she sees Jarrett as a possible protector. She seduces him, and passes the infection along in hopes he will be able to stand up to Vic. Doing so will bring tragedy to Jarrett’s little town, but Nora isn’t exactly your hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold type.
There’s not a lot to be said about the story, as it is pretty straightforward. Nora Infects Jarrett, Jarrett fights Vic and loses, Jarrett fights Vic again. You know have a couple outline of the plot.
The acting is decent, with the main cast plus Eva Amurri as Jarrett’s waitress friend who pines for him doing the best they can with the material. The direction is somewhat competent, although the director (or editor) uses jump cuts at odd and meaningless times, as well as peculiar slow motion, and the movie looks as if the entire thing was shot with inadequate lighting, though not as dark as some of the disasters I’ve seen. There is a great emphasis on sex, and some of the scenes seem to be going for a Cinemax-type appeal. If these were the only flaws, the movie might be a decent way to pass an evening if expectations were low.
However, the movie contains maybe the worst CGI I’ve ever seen, and I’ve watched a lot of SyFy channel movies. The werewolves look more horse-like than wolf-like, glow, and are cartoonish. If you are old enough to remember games on the Atari 2600, you’ve seen much better animation there. Also, except for color variations, all the werewolves are identical after the change, so when they fight, you don’t know who is biting who.
Perhaps the final word on the film is the director Douglas Aarniokoski didn’t want his name on the film. He used the alias Arnold Cassius instead.
Animals is based on the final book written by the legendary splatterpunk writing team of John Skipp and Craig Spector, and adapted for the screen by Spector. Skipp and Spector produced some really good books, but, in my opinion, there was a decline in quality toward the end, and Animals was not one of their better ones.
You should see this if you have an overwhelming desire to see Nicki Aycox naked. Otherwise, spare yourself the lame CGI and give it a miss. I don’t think it’s worth it. Also, be forewarned: other than the names of the cast, the DVD cover has nothing to do with the movie inside.