Director – Josh Reed
Cast – Zoe Tuckwell-Smith, Wil Traval, Krew Boylan, Lindsay Farris, Rebekah Foord, Damien Freeleagus
Release Year – 2010
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I was stoked to view this film after seeing/reading what I thought would be an interesting storyline, and my usual hope of finding a modern day hidden gem that will deliver a great experience despite a low-budget and little publicity. Well, that was sadly not the case with Primal, which after starting off well quickly spiraled into a horrible experience that would not end despite my desperate pleas for it to do so.
Anja and five of her friends join Dace, and anthropology student, on a weekend getaway to an isolated forest consisting of old rock paintings. The landscape is peaceful and provides a beautiful atmosphere for the friends to enjoy, but things turn sour when one of the girls decides to skinny dip and suffers terrible consequences when the leeches that bite her deliver a toxic supernatural virus. At first she is feverish and delusional, but soon enough she is overcome with the virus and begins to harbor a cannibalistic rage that will not quell until she devours all of her friends.
Don’t ask me why, but I went into this watch expecting it to be at least a decent experience. You know I love horror films involving people trekking through the woods/jungle and coming across a deadly force that forces them to fight back, and while this film gave us that its writing and direction were not enough to save it. I enjoyed the anthropological aspect of the film, and found it to be the most interesting element behind the premise I just mentioned, but sadly the story did not delve into it very much and left me with literally no explanation of what was going on behind the virus. It is obvious that there is a supernatural element to it, but that as well was never explained and hardly even touched by the storyline, leaving me with nothing but disappointment for what could have been a good overall storyline. To make matters worse the screenplay itself is equally bad, with less-than-favorable character play, and poor dialogue. Some of the characters were likable and contributed to the story, so I will give this film credit for that, but that is about as far as my gesture goes for this story.
Director Josh Reed could have possibly turned this film’s story into a moderate experience, but despite his beautiful cinematography and good sets his camerawork was annoying and had me assuming the guy was a first-timer trying to show off and make up for the lack of budget, and sadly it did not work for him. We get too many scenes relative to the fight scenes we got in The Matrix, but of the lesser and overdone variety like the pathetic fight scenes in Resident Evil: Afterlife. We do get some positive gore thrown in, which came via the live-action variety and thankfully did not consist of much CGI, and the look of those “infected” with the virus was good enough for a film with limited resources. Despite them delivering some good gore I hated the execution of the infected, and found them very uninteresting. For the most part they would simply run really fast, stop and growl, taunt and growl, and then run again, with most of what they did simply consisting of growling. At first it was OK, but by the end of the film I was wishing the film would end, and despite its quick runtime of 85 minutes it felt like it would never end, which says a lot about the quality of this piece.
Overall, Primal is a low-budget horror film that could have been at least a mediocre watch with the elements it harbored, but sadly poor writing and direction kept this film from anything worthwhile. The gore is good but everything else sucks, leaving this film one I advise you to stay away from.