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Freaky Assed Mutant Rabbit on a Stick

Watched Primal (2010) tonight – which means spoilers!

I got the wrong impression of this film from the trailer. I thought it was going to be the usual type of horror-slasher film where attractive young teenagers/twenty-somethings get picked off one-by-one by whatever creature this creature-feature has devilishly devised. Basically, I thought it was going to be the ususal tripe Hollywood studios churn out – only with Aussie accents.

Imagine my pleasant surprise when I discovered it wasn’t like that at all. The big selling point of this film has to be the characters. They don’t get a massive amout of time to develop on screen – but they’re actually pretty decent. The main character – Anya – is a bit predicatble and might as well have a big flashing sign over her head that reads: I SURVIVE UNTIL THE END! I FACE MY PERSONAL DEMONS! And all the characters do fit snugly into the horror movie set-pieces: jock, slut, virgin, clown, nerd and plucky heroine.

BUT the plot of this film is tidy. There aren’t any of those excrutiating “WTF did you do that for?!” moments. You don’t actually want all of the characters to die horribly. They do actually try to form a reasonable plan of action. There are good reasons (maybe not the right reasons – but still understandable) for why they do what they do. And frankly – compared to a hell of a lot of other horror films – that earns you points in my book. And aside from the main character, I was pleasantly surprised that I was totally unable to calculate the order in which the characters would get bumped off!

And there’s more! Genuinely witty dialogue! Anyone who doesn’t find the song line about the freaky-assed mutant rabbit on a stick hysterically funny has no soul. The central concept of the film also has enough originality about it to make this film worth checking out.

And here’s the concept in a nutshell: A group of Aussie students head out to a deserted part of the outback in search of a cave painting. One of these young people gets infected with something mysterious: her teeth begin to fall out, being replaced with razor sharp fangs. She then reverts to a primal and viciously aggressive animalistic state. And starts eating her fellow camp-mates. The trailer pretty much gives away the entire plot of the film. Except the weird shit that happens at the end. And sadly I don’t mean ‘weird shit’ in a good way either.

This film fails to explore much of its potential. There were hints of a back story with the main-character’s ancestor who initially found the cave painting. This is – quite literally – forgotten within the first 10 minutes and never referred to again. There are also some freaky bugs around the cave which eat through anything – again, these are forgotten once they have served their purpose as a plot mechanism.

This film really falls apart in the last 15 minutes when you finally see what is in the mysterious cave. The film makers attempt to shoe-horn in their creature, present us with a weird bit of exposition/mythos, presumably blow the majority of their SFX budget and basically go a bit weird in a very creepy way. Put simply: the whole thing gets rather silly.

Apart from those gripes, this is a solid film. Good dialogue, better characters and script than usual, an interesting central concept and a lot of fun. You won’t be terrified but there are a few decent jumpy moments. There’s also a freaky-assed rabbit on a stick. And you really can’t say fairer than that.