Director – Brett Simmons, Screenplay – Thommy Hutson & Catherine Trillo, Producers – Andrew Gernhard, Thommy Hutson, Chris Miller, Zach O’Brien, Colin Theys & Ember Truesdell, Photography – Scott Winig, Music – tomandandy, Makeup Effects/Creature Effects – Gary J. Tunnicliffe, Production Design – Jeanette Drake. Production Company – Chiller Films/Synthetic Cinema International/Flower Films
Elizabeth Gillies (Mandy), Amaury Nolasco (Douglas), Thorsten Kaye (Carl), Paul Iacono (Sean), Keke Palmer (Alissa), Joey Lauren Adams (Vicky), Jeremy Sumpter (Matt), Parker Young (Jeff)
Jeff takes his stepsister Alissa and three other friends on a hiking trip into the woods. After taking a detour and becoming lost, they are caught after nightfall. They are then attacked by a creature. Fleeing, the group seek refuge at a cabin in the woods, finding that it is inhabited by three others who are all also hiding from the creature. Barricaded into the house from the creature as it seeks to break in, tensions rise between the party as they bicker over finding a means of escaping or fighting back.
Animal was the fifth film from Brett Simmons. Simmons first appeared with the superhero mockumentary Unsung Heroes (2003) and the non-genre Mark of Love (2009). He then found a home in the horror genre with Husk (2011) and has stayed there since with The Monkey’s Paw (2013) and Animal.
Animal is a fairly generic Backwoods Horror/Monster Movie. The plot gathers all the cliches of the genre – the group of teens/twentysomethings on the trip into the wood who become lost and attacked by something (for once, a monster instead of degenerate hillbillies or hockey-masked maniacs). This then switches over a different cliche – one that we have had ever since Night of the Living Dead (1968) – of the group trapped at siege in a house/cabin and bickering amongst themselves over the best course of survival.
Brett Simmons delivers some okay tension. There’s one good jump where group leader Parker Young sends the others off and prepares to stay and fight the creature only to turn and find it right behind him. There is some passable tensions at the cabin, even if there is nothing that makes you jump out of your seat in any way. The characters are okay, although the most ridiculous scene in the film is one where the token gay guy (Paul Iacono) has a meltdown and tries to tell Parker Young’s girlfriend that Parker had a reciprocated gay crush on him as she is grieving shortly after his death. The creature effects are frequently unconvincing. Indeed, the monster is so generic we never even get an explanation of its origin.