Directed By: Josh Reed
Starring: Zoe Tuckwell-Smith, Krew Boylan, Lindsay Farris
Line from the film: "Quarter of a billion alpha males in this world, and we get the dog-shit one!"
Trivia: This movie won the audience award at the 2010 London FrightFest Film Festival
Six friends: Anja (Zoe Tuckwell-Smith), Mel (Krew Boylan), Chad (Lindsay Farris), Kris (Rebekah Foord), Warren (Damien Freeleagus), and Dace (Wil Traval), travel deep into the Australian wilderness to get a look at some ancient cave drawings, which haven’t been seen in over 100 years. Hoping to gather material for an upcoming thesis, Dace intends to spend a few days at the site studying the images, with the others tagging along for what they hope will be a relaxing camping trip. Unfortunately, things start to fall apart the first night when Mel, after skinny-dipping in a nearby lake, finds her entire body is covered in leeches. Once the nasty parasites are removed, Mel quickly develops a fever, and soon her teeth begin to fall out. By morning, she’s changed into a ravenous beast with sharp fangs and a taste for blood. When she disappears into the nearby forest, the rest of the group does what it can to track her down. Alas, Mel won’t be the only one to succumb to this mysterious disease...
Starting with an opening sequence set 12,000 years in the past (where we meet the artist responsible for the cave paintings), it’s obvious that 2010’s Primal is going to be a stylish, brutal motion picture; once this prehistoric scene, which features the film’s first bit of bloodshed, is over, we instantly leap thousands of years into the future, not stopping until we reach modern day (director Josh Reed marks the passage of time with a montage of hundreds of images, showing trees growing and clouds flying overhead, which play out rapidly before our eyes). This combined with some occasional slow-motion (during the attack scenes) and lots of handheld camera work gives Primal a style all its own.
In addition to its cinematic tricks, I was impressed with the film’s cast of characters, who, when we meet them, are as obnoxious and sex-crazy as those you’d find in most horror movies. But it isn’t long before we realize there’s more to these people than that. Due to a traumatic event involving one of her old boyfriends, Anja now suffers from claustrophobia (though it'll shave hours off the trip, she’s unable to walk through a cave with the others); and despite his often abrasive personality, Morgan has some medical training, and is quick to help the others whenever they’re in need of assistance. Even Mel, who at first appears to be the slut of the group (flirting with Morgan and Dace during the drive up), is actually devoted to boyfriend Chad, who she clearly loves. All of the performances are strong (especially Krew Boylan, who’s perfectly convincing as both a bubbly, outgoing twentysomething and a carnivorous monster hell-bent on eating her friends), and do their part to bring these well-rounded characters to life.
At times incredibly tense (the scene where Anja, Kris, and Warren try to draw the now-animalistic Mel out into the open will have you on the edge of your seat), Primal is also quite gory in parts, and has more than a few effective jump scares (the best of which involves a kangaroo). Not even the movie’s lame final 10 minutes, with its piss-poor CGI and ridiculous story twist, can ruin what went before it. Packed with thrills and plenty of blood, Primal is not to be missed