In the new film ABOMINABLE, a research team searches for a rare plant high in the Himalayas. Legend has it that the “yeti plant” may hold the key to not only a cure for cancer but also the complete reversal of cell death.
But while their mission may seem simple, the execution is anything but. At the top of the film, the team stumbles across the abandoned outpost of a previous expedition. The journal of one of the missing scientists reveals that while the former team may have located the plant and even started testing, they were also plagued by a mysterious threat hiding among them in the mountains.
“Evil reminds us that it bears a face,” expedition lead Dr. Helen Smith (Amy Gordon) reads from the journal.
With frigid temperatures, no radio connection, and a massive storm to the East, threats surround the team on all sides, but these dangers pale in comparison to the monster that’s waiting just outside.
Directed by Jamaal Burden, ABOMINABLE is a fun little monster flick that avoids over-explanation in favor of nice action sequences and delightful special effects.
It’s clear that Burden learned well the low-budget creature feature tricks that let small films punch above their weight, and those lessons are on full display.
- Close-Ups Are Your Friend
When you’re making a monster movie on a budget, it’s important to look at your special effects objectively and make your filming choices based on what looks best. Close-ups that inspire menace without revealing too much are a great way to build tension. Burden and his team nail this technique throughout the film, trusting that the audience will be able to fill in the gaps.
- Create Smaller Effects that Suggest Larger Brutalities
Related to number one, in low budget filmmaking effects frugality will take you a long way. Sure, you can have your team work tirelessly to build dozens of massive gags, but if the result isn’t perfect, you run the risk of turning your horror into a comedy.
Burden knew this and instead took the much wiser route of focusing on smaller, detailed effects that really drive home his creature’s brutality. A well-executed torn throat here or a gouged eye there are infinitely more effective than a thousand fake-looking decapitations. That’s not to say this film is devoid of big effects set pieces – they’re there and they’re great – but Burden keeps his film’s momentum by using these smaller effects at just the right moments.
- Keep Your Monster Mysterious
The most important thing any filmmaker can do is keep their monster mysterious. From mega-blockbusters to indie festival films, the kiss of death for any creature feature is giving your supernatural villain too much screen time. The longer an audience has to examine the monster, the less frightening it will become.
Here again, Burden nails the balance, keeping his abominable beast’s appearances to quick cuts and background shots until well into the movie.
While ABOMINABLE does a great job of delivering a fun story on a budget, there are a few places where a little more attention to detail could have gone a long way. These issues mainly have to do with the script. The main goal of the story is clear, but the conversations about generators, beacons, extraction points, and experiments are so dense they become hard to follow. It didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the film, but another edit to whittle the script down to its essentials could have really made it sing.
If you’re a fan of practical effects, a lover of wintery terror, or just a good old monster kid from way back, give ABOMINABLE a watch. ABOMINABLE will be available on DVD and Digital April 14.