Studio: Blue Fox Entertainment
Director: Patrick Magee
Writer: Jay Lee, Patrick Magee
Producer: Angela Lee, Patrick Magee
Stars: Casey Gagliardi, Andrew Joseph Montgomery, Eloy Casados, Justin Rain, Jim Roof, Shannon Malone, Brandon Gibson, Blake Johnson, Marshall Hilton
A recently reunited couple fights for survival against a legendary Native American creature while stranded in the woods.
Almost without fail, every time I face the writer’s block of wondering how I’ll meet a word minimum when a movie is too milquetoast to motivate meaningful thought, I inevitably wind up with two reviews worth of content. It’s both amusing and satisfying to start with a question of, “what is there to say?” only to end by asking, “how did I say so much?”
I’m confident this is not going to be one of those times. It’s not that Patrick Magee’s “Primal Rage” is awful or anything. That would probably be preferable. The movie is simply so basically blah that my brain can’t get out of first gear to come up with anything clever. Bad movies at least spark sarcasm. Good movies electrify intellectual insight. Because I’m not inspired to have any discernible response whatsoever, “Primal Rage’s” mediocrity merely makes me fear this review will be as dull to read as the film is to watch.
With no better idea of how to proceed at this point, I suppose we just roll through routine, which happens to be “Primal Rage’s” modus operandi too. Let’s start with a standard story summary.
Fresh from serving a one-year stint in a Pacific Northwest prison, Max gets picked up by his wife Ashley and the couple quickly picks up where their troubled marriage left off. Max and Ashley also pick up a full bag of exposition at a roadside gas station on their drive back home.
Inside the station’s convenience store, a sheriff puts a flyer on a bulletin board, bringing the total number of recent missing persons cases posted alongside it to way too many for a town this small. Eccentric cashier Nickel Pete mumbles about Oh-Mah, the Native American version of Sasquatch, but the skeptical sheriff doesn’t buy into his people’s peyote-induced folklore.
Outside the store, Max and Ashley run into the usual assortment of plaid-wearing, chain-smoking, can-crushing, cat-calling, gun-toting local yokels who go by names like B.D., Lefty, Hicks, Trout, Eze, Gordy, and Critter. Not a Phineas or even a Paul among the bunch. Keep them in mind regardless, since we are going to need bodies for Bigfoot to drop down the line.
Max and Ashley return to the remote woodland highway where, wouldn’t you know it, Ashley takes her eyes off the road for a split instant, opening a predictable window for someone to stagger out and get hit. There isn’t a whole lot of time to mourn the mauled man however, as an Oh-Mah emerges to throw a rock that knocks Max down an embankment.
“Oh-Mah,” it turns out, must be Chinook for “uses handmade weapons for some reason.” Bigger than a bear and just as much of a juggernaut, this beast could use only claws and fangs to tear prey apart, which it certainly does. But “for some reason,” Oh-Mah also wields a hand ax as well as a bow and arrow in addition to the aforementioned rock.
Anyway, Ashley drops her 911 call and dives into roaring rapids to save Max from drowning. Now the couple is stranded downstream and their only hope of rescue is, huh, what are the odds, the hunters they ran afoul of in the backwoods 7-11’s parking lot. I told you this was a small town.
It’s an uneasy alliance, yet everyone will need all the hands they can get when the path back through the forest puts them on a collision course with, you guessed it, Oh-Mah. Since “yada yada yada” isn’t a professionally acceptable cop out to wrap this up, I’ll add that the no-longer-skeptical sheriff, a weird witch woman who lives in the woods, and a few other equally inconsequential characters also get in on the action, or what constitutes action at any rate.
Being desperate for sentences to fill this space, there’s no harm in repeating myself. “Primal Rage” isn’t bad. It’s just nondescript, conventional, formulaic, by the numbers, or whatever other term you want to use to describe its personality of pedestrian plainness.
Acting, like most other elements in the movie, is adequate. Casey Gagliardi has a small Katrina Bowden quality boosting onscreen appeal as Ashley. In his final role, longtime character actor Eloy Casados plays a serviceable sheriff.
Practical effects earn the most positive praise by a longshot. Several inventively gory kills show more creativity than any other effort in the movie. That such scenes earn higher marks comes as little surprise considering first-time director Patrick Magee’s background on FX crews for films including “Jurassic Park III” and “Men in Black 3.” Oh-Mah looks something like if “Harry and the Hendersons” mated with Predator’s cousin and then chose to wear a mask made of tree bark, but the monster mostly works as a fair enough creature.
Beyond that, all I have left to say is if you still choose to give “Primal Rage” a go, buckle up for Bigfoot blandness. This review may not be worth much now, but it should be handy to have when we need a memory jog to distinguish this flat flick from every similar Sasquatch-related thriller.
Look at that. I hit my word count after all. Now I can finally drop this exercise in futility and go do something else, which frankly, I recommend you do instead of watching “Primal Rage.”
NOTE: There is a post-credits scene.
Review Score: 40