TV Movie: “Animal”

IMG_0333.JPGIt’s a rarity when a TV movie can truly surpass the level of most other TV movies. Of course, when you think about it, it’s really not that difficult too be more fun than what you’d regularly see.

The Chiller Network movie “Animal” is still a bad horror TV movie, but not for the reasons you’d expect. I was shocked.

This horror movie stars Keke Palmer (“Masters of Sex”, “The Trip to Bountiful”), Jeremy Sumpter (“Into the Storm”, “Hiding”), Elizabeth Gillies (“Killing Daddy”, “Victorius”), Joey Lauren Adams (“Switched at Birth”, “Blue Caprice”), Amaury Nolasco (“Gang Related”, “Rizzoli & Isles”), Parker Young (“Enlisted”, “Suburgatory”), Paul Iacono (“Deadbeat”, “G.B.F”), Thorsten Kaye (“The Bold and the Beautiful”, “Smash”) and Eve (“Bounty Killer”, “All Wifed Out”).

The film was directed by Brett Simmons (“The Monkey’s Paw”, “Husk”) and written by Thommy Hutson (“Scream: The Inside Story”, “Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy”) and Catherine Trillo (“Prank”).

The film was given a video on demand (VOD) and limited theatrical run on June 17, 2013 before premiering on the Chiller Network on Oct. 10.

This movie was surprisingly fun! I was surprised by how entertained by it I was. I’ve seen a lot of TV movies, and most are duds, and lose me before the film even ends. Here, this did not happen.

The creature design was pretty fantastic! Sure the creature overall was your run of the mill hideous monster with sharp claws and teeth, but it’s the way it looks that sells this TV movie. Fortunately, as well, you didn’t have to spend too much time wondering what this creature would look like. You knew that it growled, and by the films first few minutes, you knew that it was vicious and could attack a person quite quickly. Next there’s the fact that it wasn’t just shrouded in darkness or shadows, like “Godzilla (2014), where you may catch some slight glimpse of the creature, you got full blown encounters. This is where the design and where the effective use of special effects, whatever those were- CGI or animatronics- came into play. Most of the time you get badly done CGI, which just turns a film into a laugh riot, but here, it’s effective for the most part, as it may not change your feelings about the movie overall.

The acting, overall, wasn’t that bad. Nothing at all spectacular, but for a small television film, it far surpasses most others one would choose to watch. For each character, at the start of the film, the chemistry was there and I could believe that this small group of friends was really close, and actually liked each other. Later, as the attacks happen, you understand why they want too help one another and not leave anyone behind. When we get to the others (Nolasco, Adams, and Kaye) they instantly lump in with the group, mainly because they’re all feeling the same fear of the creature.

There were a few moments that did surprise me, but I’m not sure if they were just clever jump scares, or effective scares in general. There were times when I thought a predictable scare or cliche moment was going to happen, and surprisingly, it didn’t. Made for a much more enjoyable and fun movie.

As a lover of the TV movie, be it on SyFy, Lifetime, or the ever surprising ChillerTV, I can say that this has given me a renewed feeling for these types of films. Sure I’ll still be hoping, and expecting, really bad movies, and not fun bad like “Sharknado 2: The Second One”, but really bad, you can’t keep watching. Those are just as fun, but if I can get a movie that’s actually entertaining, provides enough creepiness, and has me captivated the entire time, I’m all for it even more! Please, please, provide more of these types of films and I may just keep watching the network as a whole.

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