Shot in 2015 between WITHER and PUPPET MASTER: THE LITTLEST REICH as WE ARE MONSTERS, Sonny Laguna, and Tommy Wiklund’s ANIMALISTIC is their take on the rape/revenge genre. Considering the genre’s origins with the Swedish THRILLER: A CRUEL PICTURE I was interested to see what these two Swedes would do with the topic. The results are a mixed bag.
Emma (Hanna Oldenburg BLOOD RUNS COLD) is an Australian businesswoman who comes to the US to sign off on a deal. She’s barely arrived before she’s kidnapped and delivered into the hands of psychopaths Jim (Ralf Beck, FEAR OF THE WOODS, LEGEND OF THE DARK RIDER) and Pete (Torbjörn Andersson). Almost immediately she’s given a vision of her future as she’s forced to watch the killing of their last victim. She’s so badly beaten and abused looking it’s more like putting her out of her misery at that point.
Can Emma not just survive the abuse of her captors but free herself? Free herself and, of course, take revenge.
ANIMALISTIC is a hard film to watch, and not just because of the onscreen violence. The film was shot with a washed-out look and colors that were intended to give the impression of filth and decay. This does work, but it also started to give me a headache by the film’s end.
In terms of the plot, there’s really nothing we haven’t seen before here. The squabbling, sadistic villains, the constantly screaming and begging victim, an unsuccessful escape attempt, etc. It’s all there as in so many other films. There’s also no attempt at character development. Emma is kidnapped in the film’s first five minutes, so there’s no time to get to know her. Her captors are given the same treatment, there’s no backstory to them, no explanation for how they became what they are. All the film really cares about is the violence.
On the level of pure exploitation, ANIMALISTIC does deliver. The rapes are shot to disturb, not to titillate and they are disturbing. Those with an aversion to this genre will want to give this one a wide berth. When the revenge part of the formula kicks in the payback is nasty and an effective payoff.
In the end, ANIMALISTIC is a familiar tale, told by the numbers, but with the raw edge fans of this kind of film like. And those fans should like it. Others may find it watchable or not depending on their tastes.
ANIMALISTIC is available via VOD and DVD from Wild Eye Releasing.
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