The Aisle Steat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Four celebrated titles screening at the 2010 Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas are available simultaneously on demand via IFC Midnight, and for 30 days afterward. The Aisle Seat is proud to cover these films.

The Aussie film Primal is a good old-fashioned creature feature seasoned with the kind of outrageous gore that defines many modern-day horror flicks. A group of friends goes on a journey to find some prehistoric rock paintings that haven't been seen in decades. In order to get to the difficult-to-access spot, they either have to drive a long distance out of their way or walk through a cave tunnel that serves as a short cut. Our heroine, Anja (Zoe Tuckwell-Smith), is claustrophobic and decides to take the car while the others hike it. While going through the cave, they accidentally set in motion a chain of events that awakens an unseen evil and contaminates the nearby water supply.

After finding their destination, another group member, Mel (Krew Boylan), decides to skinny dip in the lake. She emerges changed; her teeth fall out and are replaced by fangs, and she suddenly starts trying to eat her friends. Anja and the others quickly realize that the rock painting may be some kind of prehistoric warning about whatever has caused Mel to become so viciously primitive. Then a second individual in the party gets transformed, setting off a grisly fight to survive among the rest.

There's some awesomely gory stuff in Primal. Director Josh Reed doesn't shy away from showing people getting chomped or eaten by Mel and the other infected character. A third-act fight scene between two infected and two normals is as bloody as it is beautifully choreographed. Reed also nicely milks both the suspense of the initial situation and the deadliness of its aftermath. This is a very well-paced horror movie.

It also has a self-aware sense of humor. Even amongst the carnage, Primal gives you an occasional wink or nod to let you know that it isn't taking itself too seriously. This is most evident in the ridiculously over-the-top finale, which includes some intentionally cheesy special effects. The final line of dialogue is a hoot, as well.

There's obviously not a lot of substance here. This is a basic horror story of people trying to survive in a remote location with a creature trying to kill them. It's been done before, and done better, but Primal is still good, gross fun for fans of splatter cinema.

( out of four)

Primal is one of four 2010 Fantastic Fest films available to watch on demand for 30 days, from IFC Midnight. The other titles are High Lane, Heartless and Red White & Blue. Past Fantastic Fest entries Doghouse, The Human Centipede and The Good, The Bad, the Weird are also available during this time. Check your cable or satellite provider for details.