Trying to find the time to sit, breathe and watch a movie to kick off the summer in the non-typical sense of revisiting The Friday the 13th franchise, or even the Sleepaway Camp flicks, had pushed me into a different camp tale – Feral (2017). Directed and co-written by Mark Young (Tooth and Nail, Wicked Blood), Feral stars Scout Taylor-Compton of Rob Zombie’s Halloween fame, Olivia Luccardi and Lew Temple.
**Just a fair warning: This may contain what some believe to be spoilers.**
To set the tone, we start with a bloodied female tied to a small dingy bed in an even dingier unidentified location. She awakes, obviously rabid of some sorts, and gets a bullet to her head after we get a nice look at a pair of death yellow eyes. And, so ends one of the better parts of the movie.
As the cliche goes: Six friends [mostly], get lost in the woods [say it isn’t so!] and take camp for a night’s rest. You have three couples – Alice & Jules (Taylor-Compton & Luccardi), Matt & Brienne, and Jesse & Gina.
While closing it down for the night, Matt proposes to his girlfriend, Brienne, and just as he haphazardly pops the questions, Matt exits the tent to use nature’s restroom. As Matt walks towards the woods, we join him in hearing some unnatural growling and sounds of animalistic hunger – which is then met with unnatural galloping by a humanoid creature that sees Matt as his midnight snack. Apparently, no one hears the agonizing helps Matt is expressing, so we wait while Brienne finally gets up to check on her new fiancé. Upon doing so, she rightfully is attacked and the group then learns about Matt’s unfortunate early demise.
The morning comes and a local by the name of Talbot (Temple) has stumbled upon the campers, stating he has a cabin nearby with medical supplies and food. Enticing to say the least, everyone heads to Talbot’s little home of solitude a good 50 miles from the general population.
During this time, we see people get attacked in a terribly slow pace and get some form of explanation regarding this virus that creates hungry creatures that eat by moonlight. To put it simply – it’s a virus that not only kills, but reanimates its victims into pale, vampiric-like undead hairless cannibals. Take that all in. Talbot has named it “the Feral virus” and apparently, is the only person that’s experienced this when his son was bit before killing/turning most of their family. The virus lies dormant during daylight hours and somehow activates when the evening comes.
That is fine and dandy, however, my main question is this: How did it not spread?!
I genuinely do my best to not attempt to figure out the logic behind the illogical, but if one person was randomly bit by another, it had to begin somewhere and there should be more individuals running rampant from a feral zombie plague. Right?
Moving along, one positive aspect of this film is the cinematography. The scenes were shot very well and often done beautifully. The practical special effects are always welcomed, and the decline into viral madness was – however brief – effective. Yet, it wasn’t enough to buy my love.
The dialogue is unfortunately overused and predictable, lacking sincerity with “I don’t want to live anymore“, “He didn’t just get up and walk away!“, and much unnecessary verbiage that was played with some highly unconvincing acting to back it up, along with underwhelming character development. There were many moments where I found myself bored, hoping for something exciting to happen when it hardly did. For a movie selling itself on bloodthirsty creatures, they came and went like flies through a window. I think somewhere along the lines, an attempt at a twist was had, however, it was rough and anyone who has seen a movie that follows this almost exact plot-line will know before the beginning credits are even over.
High hopes were had, but lost, much like the hair and teeth of those that fell victim to the Feral virus. If forced at gunpoint to rate this, I would give it three molars out of a lower jawbone.
Directed By: Mark Young
Produced By: John Landolfi & Mark Young
Written By: Adam Frazier & Mark Young
Starring: Scout Taylor-Compton, Olivia Luccardi, Lew Temple, George Finn, Renee Olstead, Brock Kelly, Landry Allbright
As of May 25, 2018, Feral is available for digital viewing through Amazon Prime and had a limited theatrical release.