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October 14, 2018

Feral

by Franz Patrick


Feral (2017)
★ / ★★★★

“Feral” is the type of movie in which a person is attacked a few feet away from the campsite, screaming howls of pain from being bit and torn into, and yet, miraculously, no one hears a sound. In another scenario, a woman bashes in an assailant’s head with a baseball bat and yet—another miracle—no blood spatter can be found on her clothes, her face, her hair. The film is a series of nonsensical situations: instead of a horrific time, it offers a horrible time.

The would-be horror of reanimated corpses following a virus transmission is written by Mark H. Young and Adam Frazier, directed by the former, both seemingly unaware of the conventions of the sub-genre they wish to tackle or contribute toward. In fact, I felt no passion put into their work. I felt as though they created the film for the sake of making it. It is never scary, suspenseful, or thrilling. Gruesome images are simply there to take up space.

There just isn’t enough smarts or creativity. For instance, once a camper is separated from the pack, it is highly likely that he or she will be dead in a matter of seconds. The established pattern prevents viewers from connecting to the characters, and it does not help that the writing treats the subjects merely as food to be eaten by so-called Ferals. It begs the question of why we are following this particular group. What makes them special?

Notice the filmmakers’ choices from behind the camera. It has a fondness for employing annoying closeups despite the fact that the actors hired for the job are not the most subtle in expressing a multitude of emotions. When the living humans and the undead end up in the same room, the camera is placed in an awkward position—sometimes from an angle where it is difficult to appreciate the intensity of the confrontation. I got the feeling that the director has played one too many bad horror video games and not seen enough classic creature-features that underline the terror of the situation despite shoddy costumes or cosmetics.

This is not to imply that the film offers a subpar look when it comes to its monsters. In fact, the makeup department has done a good job in making the Ferals look convincing. Because these creatures are inactive during daylight, I enjoyed it when the remaining survivors would lift their former friends’ eyelids and we see alligator-looking eyes. Still, despite the admirable cosmetics, a lot of work needed to be done when it came to the movement of the creatures. In one scene, they move like dogs… but in another, they move like monkeys. It is bizarre, laughable, and insulting at the same time.

Most unbearable is the fact that five of the six campers graduated from medical school and yet the first time they see an injured person or a dead body, they freak out as if they had never seen, let alone touched, someone who was bleeding or dying. Once again, our minds go back to the writing—its superficiality, its laziness, its tendency to introduce ideas but not exploring any one of them. The script should not have been brought to life when it was dead in the water. It needed major revisions, but somehow—another miracle—it got made.

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