Feral (Movie Review)

Feral (Movie Review)
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PLOT: Your best friend has just been infected with a horrifying virus that will soon turn her into a rabid, rampaging cannibal-zombie. Do you: a) try to save her? or b) kill her before she kills you? That’s the nightmarish scenario six students find themselves facing when their celebratory camping trip goes terrifyingly wrong. One by one, each falls victim to the “feral” disease, until only Alice (Scout Taylor-Compton, Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN) and Jules (Olivia Luccardi, IT FOLLOWS)—two girlfriends testing the waters of their new relationship—are left standing, armed with a shotgun and holed up in a remote cabin. They’ve got a hell of a fight before them if they hope to survive… THE WALKING DEAD’s Lew Temple costars in this grisly blend of survival thriller and contagion shocker.

REVIEW: I don't know about you, but I'm a big fan of Scout Taylor-Compton. From her roles in Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN and HALLOWEEN II to her other genre offerings such as GHOST HOUSE, GET THE GIRL, FLIGHT 7500, and APRIL FOOL'S DAY, Compton always elevates the films she chooses to appear in, and I'm always down for watching her do so. And on top of Compton, Mark Young's FERAL also sports Olivia Luccardi, who you might recognize from new genre classics such as IT FOLLOWS and CHANNEL ZERO: BUTCHER'S BLOCK. Add these two scream queens together - and make them girlfriends - and the lure of checking out FERAL as soon as possible was just too much to pass up. So now that I've seen the film, what did I think? Let's find out!

The film begins with a brutal bang as an unseen man sits in a dark and dingy room with a gun in his hand. We see that there is a sleeping, bloody, half-naked woman tied to a bed in front of him. See where this is going? No, you don't. The woman's what this film calls Feral, and springs awake in full-on blood-screaming horror - so the man puts one in between her yellow eyes with the quickness. Not a bad way to start off a flick I must say! From there we meet our core group of heroes including the above-mentioned Scout Taylor-Compton and Olivia Luccardi. They're backpacking with a group of cannon fodder - I mean friends - and all seems to be going swimmingly. But it isn't long before Compton, Luccardi, and their hiking homies are set upon by a "feral" human. And boy is the first attack GORY. We get ripped out intestines and the works. The movie knows how to keep its pace rolling in the red stuff.

As I've already mentioned Compton and Luccardi's characters are girlfriends, but to dig into Compton's character a bit more, she's a student of epidemiology. And for those of you out there, like me, that have zero f*cking idea what that is, I looked up the definition. Epidemiology concerns "the study of the factors determining and influencing the frequency and distribution of disease, injury, and other health-related events and their causes in a defined human population for the purpose of establishing programs to prevent and control their development and spread." Okay then. To sum it up a little bit better, Compton just says she likes to think of herself as a "disease detective." That works better for me. 

It's a good thing Compton's a "disease detective" because things get messy - and quick. The above-mentioned first attack doesn't result in the loss of life from one of the victims, the feral man is scared off before he can fully end the group's token blonde... but he did get a few bites in. The film then becomes a ticking-clock movie of sorts as the group of hikers must find shelter, call the paramedics, and nurse their friend back to health before she goes full Feral. And here is where the film quickly establishes one of the best aspects going for it - original creatures. The film is kind of like a zombie movie, but better as it makes its own rules. These creatures share a lot in common with not only werewolves and zombies, but they are an original creation, thus the film continuously has fun with just what the rules of the road are in regards to the creatures at hand. The results are a bloody delight most of the time.

On top of that positive aspect, the film's acting is better than the everyday bunch. Not only are Compton and Luccardi as solid as we've come to expect, but their group of feral-fodder friends is a tight group of actors as well. One of the major highlights is Landry Allbright, who the keen-eyed viewer might recognize as Nic Cage's little blonde daughter from the 90's Jerry Bruckheimer cheese-classic CON AIR. Throw in HALLOWEEN, THE DEVIL'S REJECTS, and THE WALKING DEAD'S Lew Temple and Mark Young's new film brings its acting A-game. And speaking of Young, the man brings his A-game as well, keeping the film's tone in just the right spot between gorefest and genuine thrills. The film sports shades of Eli Roth's CABIN FEVER in the best ways. But unlike that classic flick, Young never lets his film become a dark-comedy and/or parody - no matter how bloody and nasty the consistent kills are. I respected that. 

Another aspect I really respected was the film's screenplay from Young and first-time screenwriter Adam Frazier. Not content to make this a typical 'kids trapped in a cabin in the woods' tale, the script keeps the characters layered and the titular creatures/disease interesting and ever-evolving. In the end, Mark Young's FERAL is yet another solid genre entry from our buddies over at IFC Midnight. The screenplay is deeper than the average bear, the acting is beyond tight from all the thespians involved, and the gory FX are consistent and very well done. On top of that, it's nice to see a new breed of backwoods butcher-creatures grace the screen in surprising ways. 

If you dig gore, girls, and a gritty tone, then I recommend checking out IFC Midnight's FERAL as soon as possible. It doesn't disappoint. But that said, on the dull side of the bloody blade, the film never quite reaches a real fever-pitch. There are no genuinely classic scenes found within, and the whole may very well, at the end of the day, be forgettable. But the fact that it stays consistently entertaining is good enough for me. If that means the movie is, ultimately, only good for a dark and stormy Netflix night of thrills that you won't remember the next day, so be it. It makes for one hell of a fun night at the movies.

Extra Tidbit: FERAL hits select theaters and all VOD outlets May 25!
Source: AITH



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