Also known as Primal Rage: The Legend of Oh-Mah (let’s that set the tone for you) is a newly released creature-feature/slasher horror movie written and directed by Patrick Magee, a makeup artist with a long history in gory effects (and in movies like Alien vs Predator and Jurassic Park III).
Primal Rage has the simplest storyline ever: his wife picks up an ex-convict out of jail and together they drive along the woods towards their house. Along the way, they crush against something (a nearly dead man) and end up in the scary woods. Hopelessly trying to survive, with a handful of unsavoury locals, they must fight back against a creature (it’s Bigfoot… that’s not even a spoiler) in a desperate battle of life or death.
The first 30 minutes, nearly made me turn off the movie, for reasons I will explain later. But I didn’t for two specific motives: firstly, as soon as I saw the nearly dead man hit by the main characters’ car, I realised the gore in Primal Rage was going to be top-notch. Secondly, I was enthralled by the indie vibe and atmospheric locations where the story is set.
That makes sense, since the filmmakers filmed nearly every scene around Crescent City, California, during the February each of two sequential years. That period and location were selected for the expected drizzle and overcast weather conditions. It’s an effort I utterly respect, since most filmmakers wouldn’t switch locations and, thus, their vision of the movie rather than patiently waiting.
After the first act, Primal Rage takes off: Ashley (Casey Gagliardi) and Max (Andrew Montgomery) are trying to find their way back on the main road, followed by a presence that lurks in the forest, until they encounter the bunch of locals. When that happens, you know it’s on: Bigfoot starts a killing spree that’s pure delight for fans of gore and people who are into late 70s, early 80s exploitation creature-feature flicks (a la The Werewolf and The Yeti).
The gore is the primary highlight in Primal Rage: most of the killings might not be super original (Friday the 13th, Wrong Turn and Hatchet definitely served as inspiration), but they’re extremely well-executed. Some of them, in particular, were brutal, convincing and entertaining at the same time.
Sure, the locals are depicted as the epitome of rednecks rapists and assholes, but that has a positives outcome: seeing them brutally murdered is highly satisfactory! However, throughout the movie, I kept wondering whether Primal Rage was meant to be taken serious or not: the locals (their banter in particular), alongside a “ritual” towards the end of the film, demonstrate that the movie tries to keep a serious tone, but fails due to unintentionally goofy sequences.
Despite its low budget, Primal Rage benefits from the great use of practical effects: the creature itself is practical and, to me, very convincing. Besides, the filmmakers decided to gear it up, turning a monster into a sort of a slasher villain. As quirky as this might sound, it actually worked in the movie for me, since it created a Wrong Turn-type-of-vibe I can absolutely appreciate.
Ultimately, the movie has balls: there is one scene, in the third act, which made me go like “wow, that’s messed up”. I honestly had a blast with Primal Rage, entertainment-wise. Don’t get me wrong, as entertaining, enjoyable and fun as it is, I wouldn’t recommend this one as a good movie. I mean, it works for what it’s set out to do, but it has issues and shortcomings.
As I mentioned above, the first 30 minutes are tough to get through. Mainly, that’s due to some of the worst performances I’ve seen the whole year and the lazy dialogue between the two main characters. For instance, Max – who’s been in prison for 1 year and 1 month – asks his wife where their son is and she simply replies he’s at school. In response to this, Max acts out all surprised, as though he’s been in prison for 25 years and lost track of time! Either that or he just isn’t able to count because he’s too dumb.
Although Ashly grows and develops as a character throughout the film, the acting here is way subpar. I feel really bad saying that, since Eloy Casados (who plays the local sheriff in the movie) passed away a few day after Primal Rage was completed, but it is what it is. Especially the main couple seems to having been hired only because of their physical appearance…
Yet, the editing in the first act of the movie seems hasty and frenetic for no apparent reason: it just made me feel nauseous and dizzy! Also, the movie heavily relies on horror tropes during the initial 30 minutes, including a fucking dream sequence that serves no purpose whatsoever. Again, the pace can be uneven at points, which would suggest the movie would have worked better if it was 25/30 minutes shorter.
With that being said, I thoroughly enjoyed Primal Rage, despite its shortcomings: again, this is a creature-feature/slasher flick, so you shouldn’t expect a masterpiece to begin with. This is one of the few cases in which I honestly hope they would come up with a few sequels, since the opportunities to reuse the formula are basically endless.
Primal Rage 6/10
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My review is also available on IMDb – Primal Rage: The Legend of Oh-Mah