There are no "happy campers" in horror movies.
A group of seemingly mismatched friends head off to The Middle of Nowhere, Australia to find some 12,000 year old Aboriginal paintings on the side of a mountain... where many decades before one of the friends' ancestors apparently murdered everyone on his expedition to the same place. What could possibly go wrong?
directed by Josh Reed
written by Nigel Christensen and Josh Reed
starring Zoe Tuckwell-Smith, Krew Boylan, Wil Traval, Lindsay Farris, and
How Is It?
It's unsteady, but it manages deliver some creepiness. That said, when it's not got the creepiness going on you really notice its weakness. This is not uncommon in horror, of course, which is all the more unfortunate for such an interesting premise.
“Primal” is an ensemble piece, and the actors do alright, considering a fair amount of what they had to work with from the script ranged from inconsistent to downright puzzling. Whereas some actors are tempted to play things up a bit in such situations, the film's cast sells everything straight. Their playing it honest allows viewers to take the action on screen seriously – or as seriously as possible.
Wil Traval and Damien Freeleagus deserve honorable mentions. Whether it's how their characters were written or their commitment to them, they steal the show when they're on-screen.
Behind the Camera
The writing is what brings “Primal” down several notches. It's not much polished, and some of the inconsistencies in the script, in some of the characterizations in particular, are just boggling. (If you watch it, keep an eye on Chad and Kris. Oy vey.) There are some awkward turns and odd pacing in the script, and it came across almost like attempts to pad the film. While an interesting premise and having some good segments, overall the script is too rocky.
Truth be told, the pre-titles segment is the best directed of the film. That's something of a knock, but the opening sets the tone for the rest of it. It's a really good opening bit, and it did get my hopes up. Unfortunately the rest of the film didn't match it... or even come anywhere close. Again, inconsistency stalls “Primal”. It goes from traditional cinematography to Shaky-Cam here and there, and that's jarring. The audio levels are used for dramatic effect, of course. However, the lows are sometimes awfully low and the highs are irritatingly high. Rather than serving to ratchet up tension and give us a scare or to lend atmosphere and dread, these visual and audial inconsistencies become interruptions that break the suspension of disbelief.
An promising premise and effective scenes here and there can't save the film. It's a bit too long and has too many inconsistencies, both in the script and the execution, putting it slightly below-average.
It's rentable, but I'd recommend watching it cheaper, either on tv or streaming online