RELEASED IN 2014 and directed by Brett Simmons, "Animal" is about a group of people who find shelter in an abandoned house in the remote Connecticut woods staving off some kind of mutated predator that picks 'em off one-by-one.
Cabin-in-the-woods horror has been done to death with a multiple different kind of monsters/creatures/villains (zombies, Jason, Bigfoot, vampires, wild dogs, mutated bears, flying creatures, psychos, etc.). I like these kinds of movies but to be effective they have to (1.) feature the proper staples and (2.) contain interesting subtext/mindfood. If they don't have the latter then they'll have to be exceptional with the former to make it worthwhile. The kinds of staples I'm talking about include excellent locations, great monster/creature/antagonist, quality characters, at least one alluring female, notable score/soundtrack and effective suspense build-up.
"Animals" features some of the requisite staples: quality sylvan locations (Connecticut); a superbly vicious-looking creature (which is a man-in-a-suit and not CGI); a decent cast; and curvy Elizabeth Gillies in a cute get-up (Keke Palmer too, if you prefer black women). While these attributes are good, they're not enough to elevate "Animal" from its hackneyed status (particularly since it's missing some of the required 'staples').
Yet it's not just the movie's staleness that holds it back. There's also dubious acting (note the unconvincing conversation of the white/black couple during the early hike), obvious plot holes (the flimsy wooden barricades that the formidable animal could obviously break through at any time), predictableness (like when the foil buys the farm), eye-rolling drama (the gay confession), clichés (the "final Friday girl" and the climactic scene) and not enough suspense build-up, although it has some.
The sad thing is that "Animal" was produced by Drew Barrymore and therefore had more funds than the typical cabin-in-the-woods slasher. If you haven't seen many of these movies then "Animal" is worth checking out. If not, I encourage you to see superior ones, even if several of them have much lower budgets, e.g. "Night of the Living Dead" (1968), "Friday the 13th I & II" (1980/1981) (actually, any of the Friday flicks), "Sasquatch Hunters" (2005), "Sasquatch Mountain" (2006), "The Lonely Ones" (2006) and "Flu Bird Horror" (2008) to name a handful ("The Lonely Ones" is a no-budget indie, but it's great in some ways; stay away, though, if you can't handle barely-a-budget horror). One thing's for sure, "Animal" is vastly superior to the lame, trashy "Cabin Fever" (2002).
One last thing: Some have criticized the movie on the grounds that the creature's origins are never revealed. No, there are two blatant clues revealing its genesis.
THE FILM RUNS 86 minutes and was shot in Hartford & Manchester, Connecticut. WRITERS: Thommy Hutson & Catherine Trillo. ADDITIONAL CAST: Parker Young, Jeremy Sumpter, Paul Iacono, Joey Lauren Adams, Thorsten Kaye and Amaury Nolasco.