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Saturday, November 16, 2019

Review: Animal Among Us

Director: John Woodruff
Screenplay: Jonathan Murphy
Year: 2019

Movies about Bigfoot have seen a slight comeback in recent times. During this year, in the horror genre, this is the second movie released about this mythical creature, the first one being “Hoax”. “Animal Among Us” is the most recent one in using this creature, but it falls short of exploiting its potential.

In “Animal Among Us”, Roland Baumgarner lives from the success of his only published work. In this book, he tells the story of two teenagers that were murdered at Merrymaker campsite. Fifteen years after the killings, the campsite is ready to reopen and Roland is invited to participate in the event, to which he goes even against the advice of his pregnant wife, and where he discovers there is something still inhabiting this campsite. 

“Animal Among Us”, from director John Woodruff in his full-length debut, comes with the label of being a Bigfoot movie, but it fails in the most basic part, which is presenting a creature that at least slightly resembles the look of the creature. It can be assumed that because of budget constraints the creature doesn’t have much time on screen, but when it does, it’s hard to find similarities with what it tries to present. At times it makes you think that the creature is a werewolf or some other wild creature, but the similarities with Bigfoot are summarized as in plentiful hair. 

Like what happens with the creature, it is hard to define where the plot of the movie is heading towards. In parts, it behaves like a creature feature, in others like a revenge movie, and in others like a couple’s drama and this causes more confusion than suspense. Similarly, there is never much certainty to where the characters in Jonathan Murphy’s script are moving towards and it makes the viewers not care for any of them.

The screenplay tries to be clever with the title of the movie and the actions that take place in it; a positive point in the movie. The first clear analogy is the creature that inhabits the campsite and who is the main responsible for the chaos that takes place there, but we also see how the protagonist Roland, interpreted by Christian Oliver (“The House of Good and Evil”), constantly cheats on his wife with other women, with whom he has a child and another one on the way. Also, the family that lives in the campsite keep plenty of secrets and are not as friendly as they initially pretend.

Even with how clever they try to be with the script and the analogies, the plot is not as interesting as it seems and by trying to be is ads many points that end up making it more confusing than intriguing. In this sort of movie, what people are most interested in seeing is the creature, and "Animal Among Us" doesn't present a creature with an interesting look or story. The characters and their development don't help to get interested in a plot that is confusing and with little substance. 

“Animal Mong Us” will be available by High Octane Pictures in digital platforms and DVD on November 19, 2019.

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