I watched Animal for a couple of reasons. The first is that it’s the most generic name you could give a horror movie, outside of maybe “Horror Movie.” That means it could be about literally anything and I was curious to see the plot that was chosen to attach to such a boring name. The second is that Joey Lauren Adams is in it, and I feel like I haven’t seen her in years now so I was curious what she’s up to. The third reason is that it was only 80 minutes long and I needed a horror movie for today. So those were my reasons for watching it, and now I will present you with one reason not to watch it – it is a bad movie.
So who is the Animal of the title? Is it an actual animal? A rapid dog perhaps? Killer cats? Mice that eat people? Or is man the real animal and it’s about a serial killer? None of the above it turns out! It’s actually about some sort of weird mutant creature that walks on its hind legs and reminded me of the creatures from that movie Feast. Or really just about any generic horror movie creature with a gaping mouth. It’s generic enough that I’m still not 100% convinced that the banner image for this review is from this movie and not one that has the same basic creature design. Any good monster movie lives on the strength of its central creature – and Animal does not have that going for it at all.
The plot surrounding the creature is as generic as it gets. A group of 20-somethings go into the woods. They get lost and fight with each other because that’s how it works in horror movies where people go into the woods. Eventually they are attacked by an unseen creature and stumble their way to a cabin. Inside they find three more people and together they have to find a way to either escape, or stop the creature from getting inside and chomping on them real good.
I doubt it will come as much of a surprise when I say the characters in this movie barely qualify as characters. Occasionally they make an effort to spout some backstory to make it appear as though they are fully fleshed out people, but don’t you be fooled. They are as one-dimensional as it gets. The only stand-out is Amaury Nolasco (Sucre in Prison Break), whose wife is killed in the opening scene and he has since become a bitter asshole who poses a more interesting threat to the group than the actual monster. Even poor Joey Lauren Adams is given absolutely nothing to do here and doesn’t even get that much screen time. These characters solely exist to be fodder for the monster, and even then most of them get dispatched in quick succession during the last 20 minutes of the movie.
The creature itself is boring. It’s not scary looking and you never get a great look at it in its entirety, using only getting quick glimpses at its face and feet. Maybe it’s the idea that it’s scarier if you see less, but I think it’s just that the movie didn’t have a huge budget. There is at least room for this monster to have some interesting kills, but he disposes of every person in nearly the exact same way. They get knocked onto their back, and then a bunch of blood shoots up in the air to indicate that they are being torn open/eaten. Every now and then you get to see the grisly aftermath, but hardly anything is ever shown when the actual act is underway. There’s never a good chase sequence or much tension throughout the whole thing. The “scares” are always blatantly telegraphed and most of the time the creature is off camera roaring like an asshole and not even doing anything.
Animal isn’t awful per se, there’s simply nothing about it to recommend. I made it through fine, I was never bored and it moved along well at 80 minutes (likely closer to 70 once you take credits out of the equation). But everything about it is so pedestrian that I can’t think of a single reason you ever need to watch this.