Coming Soon - Primal Rage (2018) - Reviewed

Makeup and special effects artist Patrick Magee's directorial debut feature is an exceptional foray into practical effects mayhem.  Filmed in the quiet Californian and Oregonian wildernesses and featuring uncharacteristically brutal violence, Primal Rage takes a unique spin on the Bigfoot legend to deliver one of 2018's first surprises for midnight horror fans. 

Recently released convict Max is picked up by his wife Ashley and on their way home from prison they're forced off the road by a malignant creature.  What follows is a gore-soaked homage to Predator and Friday the 13th that is both shockingly graphic and perfectly clich├ęd.  Magee and Jay Lee's script is fast paced and goes exactly where it telegraphs.  The heroes are the heroes, the villains (and future victims) are repugnant and forgettable.  However, the story's inclusion of Native American folklore and unusually adept camerawork elevate it above a forgettable slasher.  Casey Gagliardi's performance as Ashley is the centerpiece, using her wits and physicality to prevail in a plethora of dangerous situations, both mundane and supernatural. 

Jay Lee also shot the film.  His elusive cinematography combines breathtaking wide shots of the forest with intoxicating close ups of the violence.  Where most films cut away at the last second, Magee's vision is pure crimson spectacle, with every broken limb, smashed face, and eviscerated corpse getting time to shine.  As the narrative progresses, it unfortunately begins to feel like And Then There Were None, however, this portion moves relatively quickly and it is bolstered by Cagliardi's turn and an outstanding Medicine Hut vision quest that is more akin to a waking nightmare than a philosophical awakening. 

However, it is the kill scenes that are the dominating factor.  The Sasquatch is merciless, painfully dispatching its victims in a variety of unspeakable methods.  The sound of jaws cracking and primitive arrows obliterating their targets is palpable as the totemic creature moves through the foliage.  The final confrontation is laughable, but in the best kind of way, mimicking Arnold's South American showdown beat by beat, leading to an unexpected, yet equally satisfying conclusion.

Coming soon to digital on demand on February 27th, Primal Rage is a special effects bonanza that die-hard horror fans will embrace wholeheartedly.  While the set up and overall arc of the narrative don't bring anything new to genre, it is important to remember that the positioning of the victims isn't of import in this ghoulishly outstanding debut, it is how they're unremittingly taken off the board that matters.

--Kyle Jonathan