Primal (2010)

Posted: March 6, 2011 in Movies

The Australian accent was made for swearing. There’s just something about the way those words usually considered taboo or shocking sound so natural coming from an Aussie. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Josh Reed’s latest low budget survival horror, PRIMAL. There’s more bad language in here than at my garage poker games. That’s not a bad thing though but it could be argued that perhaps the whole film is just set-up for one swear-y punchline. It’s a really good one though so it’s not a problem in all honesty.

The problem, or so it seemed from the outset, is the all-too-familiar set-up and premise. A bunch of attractive young student-type folk go on a road trip to some remote location to find some old cave paintings only to fall victim to an ancient evil which transforms one of their number into a savage, primeval entity with incredible strength, big pointy teeth and a really bad attitude. The unfortunate poor soul this happens to then, of course, picks off the rest of the group one-by-bloody-one. All the expected elements we have seen a thousand times before are present and correct. The slightly nerdy but good-hearted guy who makes us laugh but doesn’t get the girl? Yep, he’s here. The slightly slutty girl who we just know is going to find some reason to get naked before her demise? She’s here too. How about the jock hothead of the group who won’t listen until it’s too late? And the quiet girl with an emotional trauma hanging over her? Or the nice-but-dim chick who can’t make decisions for herself? Yes, yes and yes. They’re all here and doing exactly what you would expect them to do, saying what you know they will say and dying on the order you thought they would die.

The odd thing is that it works…kinda. The script may not be original but it is sharp, witty and fast paced. The actors may look like your average horror cannon-fodder but they all turn in truly impressive performances. Damien Freeleagus stands out in particular due to his naturally funny delivery and sheer offbeat charisma. Krew Boylan also does sterling work in a role which requires her to leave her dignity by the door, spending the vast majority of the movie screaming like a fucking banshee and charging around the woods like a crazed wildebeast. That is, if the crazed beast was a slim young blonde wearing pink shorts. Though she is joined later by another of the group, she is the main threat in the movie and she does an amazing job of making us believe that a lone slight young woman is a real and lethal danger to the others in the group.

The direction also lifts this film above its formulaic nature. There’s so much energy and life in it that the ride might be through familiar territory but the territory has been given a make-over. Josh Reed pulls out all the stops here using Zack Snyder-ish slow motion effects during fight scenes, wire work and a brave choice to shoot much of the action in daylight all to great effect. Again, nothing startlingly original but all taken together, it just works.

The real let-down and what is sure to be the biggest point of criticism is the truly awful CGI. Much of the film uses practical effects to great effect and the odd augmentation by some CGI merely lends to the slightly stylised feel the film has at times. Once the movie hits the third act however an over-reliance on pixels over practicals gives the movie a feel of an early ’90s television show. Ironically, this is the most interesting part of the story in script terms but it just doesn’t work on screen unfortunately.

It’s a shame that such a relatively minor flaw mars the climax because without it PRIMAL is an incredibly watchable, massively enjoyable- if somewhat disposable bit of gory fun. Just keep the kids away – the language is pretty bad.

IMDB: Here | Download (AVI): Here

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