Within the horror genre, there are endless amounts of films based at a camp or cabin in the woods. It’s a trope we all seem to never grow tired of and it’s always effective. In ANIMAL AMONG US, the film takes this cookie-cutter plot device and makes it it’s own.
Since I already mentioned the setting, let’s look at the premise. The film is based around author and husband, Roland Baumgartner (Christian Oliver), who wrote a horror novel on the “true” events that took place at Camp Merrymaker. One day, he receives a request to make an appearance at one of the cabins via a fan letter. Thinking this will reinvigorate his career, he heads to the camp despite his wife thinking it’s a bad idea. Once he arrives, he meets a handful of individuals working for the camp and realizes that something seems off. There are two sisters that own the camp, Anita (Larisa Oleynik) and Penelope (Christine Donlon) Bishop, who inherited the camp from their mother. They’re accompanied by Burl Wolf (Don Frye) a man that appears to be ex-military, as well as a blogger that sneaks into the camp to get coverage of Bigfoot.
For most of my life, Bigfoot has been one of the least interesting cryptids so I haven’t watched a lot of movies circled around that topic. While I don’t want to speak too much on the twists and turns of the plot, and there are a few, this movie does focus on the possibility of Bigfoot killing off unsuspecting campers. This was actually something I found myself really enjoying and the way they make “the creature” look, even during glimpses, was actually quite terrifying. However, I think the main idea in the movie is that humans are the actual monsters, which you see revealed during a turning point in the film.
Speaking of turning points, we see some dirt on Roland unveiled which proves him to be a character that is easy to dislike. Honestly, I found that I disliked basically every character in this movie even if their motive made sense to the plot. I will admit, though, that the dialogue in this movie was pretty funny. One line that comes to mind is when Penelope says to Burl, “Lemme get one of those squares daddy-o,” in regards to asking for a cigarette. That’s some off-the-wall slang that you’re not just going to hear every day. Things like that made me feel like the film didn’t take itself too seriously which is one aspect that I loved about it. I’m a big advocate for indie horror films and I especially like films that have fun with it.
When it comes to the effects, they seemed to be all practical. There wasn’t much in terms of gore but there wasn’t much of a need for it considering there was a lot of off-screen maiming taking place. That’s one thing I wish we could have seen but because of the plot, it wouldn’t have made much sense. There were a bit of blood and deep wounds here and there, which were executed well, but outside of that, there wasn’t much. I do wish we got more screen time with the monster because what you could see looked pretty gnarly. It reminded me of a hairy version of Peloquin from Nightbreed.
Overall, I had a lot of fun with ANIMAL AMONG US. I expected a typical camp slasher and this movie delivered much more than that. Despite my distaste for the characters, I actually think they suited the story well. This movie was a fun and twisted trip into the woods and I enjoyed every minute of it. If you love indie horror as much as I do, especially one that delivers on fairly high-quality production value, definitely check out ANIMAL AMONG US.
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