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A generic script keeps “Feral” from rising above the pack; but a strong cast, great direction and solid effects still make it worth a watch.

FERAL
Directed by Mark H. Young
Produced by John Landolfi and Mark H. Young
Written by Mark H. Young and Adam Frazier
Starring Lew Temple, Olivia Luccardi, Renee Olstead, Brock Kelly, Landy Allbright, George Finn

FeralOfficial synopsis:

Your best friend has just been infected with a horrifying virus that will soon turn her into a rabid, rampaging cannibal-zombie. Do you: a) try to save her, or b) kill her before she kills you? That’s the nightmarish scenario six students find themselves facing when their celebratory camping trip goes terrifyingly wrong.

One by one, each falls victim to the “feral” disease, until only Alice (Scout Taylor-Compton, Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN) and Jules (Olivia Luccardi, IT FOLLOWS) — two girlfriends testing the waters of their new relationship — are left standing, armed with a shotgun and holed up in a remote cabin.

They’ve got a hell of a fight before them if they hope to survive… THE WALKING DEAD’s Lew Temple costars in this grisly blend of survival thriller and contagion shocker.

What’s most relieving about this film is the pacing. Viewers aren’t bogged down with character exploration or tension building for over half the runtime. Rather, introductions are swiftly made, relationships are obvious, and the action starts nearly right away. Scenes of intensity are expertly filmed, and nothing is cut out that should’ve been included.

The cinematography keeps you right beside the protagonists and right in the faces of the creatures — aka the feral.

The look of the creatures was interesting to look at and sways from what fans generally picture when they think “zombie.” These feral earned their namesake through their ruthlessness and animalistic behavior. Any inkling of humanity was shrugged off the moment they transformed, which is a welcome change from the zombies that drag limbs and bellow with confusion and brain-lust. Their movement was exceptionally creepy.

Makeup was strong in Feral, as was the blood flow. The geysers, slashes, and disembowelments were wonderfully camera hungry. Take notice of the scoring by Elia Cmiral; it added an element of hopefulness before the danger lurked and kept the darker moments dim.

It was refreshing to see Lew Temple step away from his Rob Zombie horror film persona and into a more serious role that still had a hint of scumbag (though for good reason). Many of the protagonists fell victim to the archetypes laid out for them, but Olivia Luccardi’s character Jules fought to be seen and enjoyed as a sincere character. Her and Alice’s (Scout Taylor-Compton) relationship felt genuine on screen and added that necessary, tender emotion for these types of stories.

However, the attempt at creating a love triangle was very forced and discredited the validity of the group’s dynamic.

I take issue mainly with the cookie cutter dialogue and storyline. Nearly every line was foreseeable and lacked real depth in correlation to the characters. The quality of acting was there the whole time, but the lines were straight out of a manual. The characters made those cliché/ questionable choices that led to scenarios we’ve all come to anticipate in zombie movies.

Despite those shortcomings, Feral doesn’t deserve an outright dismissal. It’s a generic, people pleasing present wrapped in attractive and carefully chosen packaging.

Feral is available May 25th on VOD everywhere.

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