Feral (2018) starring Scout Taylor-Compton, Olivia Luccardi and Lew Temple. Directed by Mark Young.
Back in 2002 I got all super excited about a movie called Cabin Fever. Like Wrong Turn, this movie signalled a return to 80’s style horror after the dark days of the 90’s, with all their over produced, lame, self-referencing ‘meta’ crap. Honestly, I swear the sole purpose of the 90’s was to take a big fat shit on the horror genre. That was a brutal decade for horror fans, who mostly hid in their basements watching Asian horror and wondering just what had gone wrong with its Western counterpart. I’ll take Whispering Corridors over I Know What You Did Last Summer any day of the week.
Cabin Fever was a fun splatter movie which was well received by the horror community (outside the horror community was a different story, but fuck those assholes). At the time I was super excited because I thought we were witnessing the birth of a new genre in horror, ‘Virus’ movies. Virus would be basically Slasher movies, but with a disease instead of a homicidal maniac. Take a bunch of pot smoking, beer drinking teens, stick ‘em in a cabin or a camping ground, get one of ‘em infected by some nasty shit and sit back and watch the fun unfold. Simple right? Except for whatever reason, it never happened. We got the glorious Cabin Fever 2 (which took the Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 route of comedy) and er, that’s pretty much it.
So upon hearing about Feral, the 2018 movie about a bunch of twenty-somethings who encounter a deadly virus while out hiking, I knew it was a must watch. Here it is, I thought. The Virus genre is alive and well.
Well, not really. The film starts out with an infected person shackled to a bed while another dude looks on. The film then cuts to the group who after ten minutes of character introduction decide to hit the sack. One of them steps out for a piss and is disembowelled by some sort of crazy infected person. Well, fuck it. So much for my dream of a flesh easting disease a la Cabin Fever. What Feral is instead, is an infected person movie like 28 Days Later. I guess the clue was in the title.
There’s been a bunch of these, starting in the 70’s with I Drink Your Blood and The Grapes Of Death, the 80’s gave us one of my faves: Warning Sign, and more recently we had Carriers, with Japan taking the number one spot (in my house Japan always wins) with the completely awesome Kansen from 2004.
Feral moves at a brisk pace, with several of the party being dispatched inside the first twenty minutes. One girl survives the attack and after the obligatory, ‘There’s no cell signal!’ the group find a hermit / survivalist type who takes them into his cabin (at least the film has a cabin, so I’m not completely pissed). Here the group split up; some elect to stay at the cabin while the others try to make it back to town (gee, I wonder if they’ll make it).
And so things quickly spiral out of control as more friends get attacked, become infected and eventually turn. The main problem I had with Feral, is that while the acting is passable and the special effects are practical, the script is just what-the-fuck. As the actors spew out the dialogue you’re constantly taken out of the movie by being repeatedly punched in the face by line after line of pure horror movie cliché.
‘What happened to Jesse?’
‘You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.’
‘You better start talking or I’m gonna put a bullet through your fucking skull!’
More delights include:
‘You’re gonna be ok.’
‘I don’t feel good.’
‘Hey look at me! Look at me! You’re gonna be ok. I won’t let anything happen to you!’
My favourite is the classic”
‘I’m not gonna leave you!’
‘Listen to me, you run ok? As fast as you can, just run!’
Just as I was suffocating under the gigantic avalanche of tired-as-fuck dialogue, the filmmakers decided to finish me off with one of the most clichéd scenes in a movie, ever. Stop me if you’ve seen this little nugget of originality before:
As one of the girls finds out she’s been infected she mutters the classic, ‘I’m not turning into one of those things.’ After her friend sobs and hands her the shotgun, we see the friend walking through the woods as soft, emotional music plays only to hear the sound of the shotgun going off in the distance.
Fuck me. I surrender. Well I think the characters felt the same way, ‘How much worse can it get?’ one of them asks. Not fucking much, I’m guessing.
Well to wrap things up, the final girl gets away but it turns out one of the infected is still alive, leaving it open for a sequel! ‘Got me there!’ said nobody. Ever.
Honestly, this is one of those ‘wasn’t great, wasn’t terrible’ movies. Of course if they have the fucking audacity to put out a sequel I’ll probably watch it, but hey, that’s just me.
Steve Barnard lurks in the Stygian swamps of South America. He divides his time between scouring ancient jungles for the lost City of the Monkey Children and watching horror movies. Literally any horror movie he can get his hands on. Especially Japanese ones.