The end is finally coming into the horizon as my month of reviewing horror films leading up to Halloween enters it’s 22nd day. There’s only 8 more reviews after this one to go and then I’ve achieved my personal goal of writing a 31 reviews for the 31 days in October and then we’re done….and then I’m taking a well earned week off.
However, it is just a distant blur and for now I am moving onto monster movie “Unnatural”, a story about the dangers of genetic modification. I’m not going to lie, nothing about this film looks original but it’s at least something to watch and review, but to say that I am not optimistic would be being generous.
The one hope that I see that might save the film from being awful is James Remar, an actor who I’ve long been impressed with and was easily the best part of All Superheroes Must Die.
Following on from climate change a science corporation in Alaska decides to save the species that are suffering because of humanities selfish ways, and it turns out that the best way to do that is to mix the DNA of several species together, and one such experiment combines a polar bear with a wolf, creating a more vicious hunter. One day their experimental bear escapes and kills all but one of the scientists, Dr. Hannah Lindval (Fenn).
Meanwhile, several miles away Brooking (Carlson) has set up a photography shoot with Ella (Korab), Quincy (Carpenter) and DeLana (Hodes). He stays in the cabin of Martin (Remar), an experienced hunter that hires the local Inuits as staff. The shoot is going well until a hole suddenly appears in the middle of a frozen lake and a mysterious creature drags Ella into the ice cold depths, soon followed by Nate (Cruz), one of Martin’s assistants.
Everyone returns to the cabin. Brooking is distraught at the loss of his girlfriend and threatens to sue. Martin goes out to hunt what killed the pair but comes across Dr. Lindval, and soon enough the reality of what he’s facing becames all the more frightening.
Did Remar save it from being poor?
For lack of better words, no, not at all. Now I will caveat by saying that Remar is absolutely fine in the film, I have no objections to his acting whatsoever and he can’t be blamed for the way the character is written to be so inconsistent. At first the character is an obvious pervert, or at least someone who has no idea what subtle and/or suitable customer service is, but pretty soon he’s portrayed as someone who is the ultimate arse-kicker (as are most main protagonists in movies it seems).
Remar is certainly the stand out performer in a film full of otherwise lackluster characters. When the characters aren’t being painfully bland and one dimensional, it’s obvious that the actors and actresses haven’t thought about things, nor has the director….or seemingly anyone else for that matter. For example, there is a scene where the two models are complaining it’s freezing whilst being fully clothes, and yet when they’re stood out in the open in just a bikini and a hat they aren’t complaining about the cold, nor shaking, nor even have goosebumps.
I’m not going to claim to have been to Alaska, infact, being English the closest I have ever been to Alaska was when I spent an evening in Plymouth, a distance of roughly 4,000-4,500 miles away from Alaska….depending on whereabouts you are in Alaska obviously, but if -16 (which Remar’s character quotes) is anything like it is in England, I refuse to believe in sense or for any matter of time that models that are only in beach clothes wouldn’t at least be slightly shivering or goosebumpy. Nope, they just get on with the rest of their day as if they’re in the middle of a studio and not in the middle of one of the coldest countries on Earth. It’s that lack of attention to detail that lost me quite early on in the film.
That being said, location wise the film is excellent. If this was filmed in a studio rather than on location then they have done a fantastic job, but if it was filmed on location then they have chosen a beautiful and memorable place for filming, although that again would make the not shivering a bit strange. The scenary is stunning and the scenes during the sunset, such as the below, are very well presented indeed. The cinematographer has done a very good job and if I were wearing a hat, I would doth it to them. It certainly looks the part.
The main problem for me though isn’t that the poor acting of the majority of the cast or the lack of attention to detail, it’s that Unnatural is just dull. The problem with a lot of other horror movies of the same ilk is that they are remarkably similar to each other in nature and Unnatural offers precisely nothing new or insightful to a sub-genre of horror that is already over-populated as it is.
I could predict which characters were going to get killed and got it 100% correct, they might as well have been wearing a t-shirt that said “I get killed in this film” and the reason I was able to tell was how the characters were presented. Each was a stereotype of some variety, infact, here a list of the stereotypes that you can expect if you watch Unnatural;
- Racist, hipster, prima-donna photographer
- Model who only cares herself
- Main character who is the person you’d want to have in the situation you find yourself in
- A scientist with an ulterior motive
- The main character’s assistant who is attracted to him
I could go on but I don’t think I really need to.
And finally, as a horror movie this fails miserably because it just isn’t that scary. Every single moment where it is trying to enduce a sense of fear is unsuccessful because it’s the same cliched nonsense that you get in other films and relies purely on trying to jump scare you rather than actually scaring you.
I really wanted to like Unnatural, I really did, but I just couldn’t because it’s just bland and is full of one-dimensional, stereotypical characters.
Unfortunately Unnatural just isn’t scary in any sense of the word and it offers very little, if anything, of what you haven’t seen before. It relies too much on jump scares and ultimately, because the characters are so one dimensional you don’t really care who lives and who dies.
Don’t waste your time.