Case Number 21948: Small Claims Court


E1 Entertainment // 2009 // 91 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // August 5th, 2011

The Charge

Evil never dies.

The Case

He may not appear on the big screen too often anymore, but former Lois and Clark star Dean Cain is still pretty busy acting in mediocre low-budget flicks you'll most likely find the in the straight-to-DVD section. One of his recent projects is Michael Emanuel's horror movie Maneater, in which he plays a struggling sheriff trying to hunt down an evil creature hungry for human flesh. Maneater certainly isn't part of the worst this genre has to offer, but then again, it's not a particularly intriguing horror film, either.

Cain slips into the role of Harry Bailey, a former big-city FBI profiler who got tired of his job and decided to move to a small town with his daughter Pearl (Lacy Phillips). Now working as the local sheriff, Harry finds himself investigating a series of gruesome murders caused by what he discovers is a bloodthirsty monster hiding somewhere in the woods. On top of that, Harry is having a tough time because he's continuously plagued by a mix of terrible nightmares and the painful emotions surrounding his wife's mysterious disappearance.

If there's one thing Maneater is clearly missing, it's the originality a good horror movie needs to stand out and terrify its audience. While the filmmakers behind this project try to inject some freshness into the whole creature aspect by having their evil monster go on a killing spree only when it's sexually aroused, they eventually fail to capitalize on this idea because the joke grows old very fast. In fact, most of what we get to see in this film quickly runs out of air, leaving us with a sluggish plot cursed with repetition and the lack of suspense.

Alas, the central story of Maneater loses its focus early on, and one of the reasons the flick quickly succumbs to boredom is the superficiality of the main characters. Cain's Harry seems like a pretty interesting guy at first, but when he's not having his nightmares, he's either trying to keep a strict eye on his daughter or sitting in front of his computer doing research about man-eating beasts. He's not really progressing fast enough throughout the movie, and neither is his case.

His daughter Pearl is part of a group of bored teenagers taking up a considerable amount of the film's running time, and truth be told, they are all pretty annoying. I mean, all they do is having sex, which serves as an obviously cheap vehicle to get our nasty creature aroused and ready to move on its next victim. That's their only purpose for existing, because quite frankly, the dialogue they're stuck with is beyond terrible.

Maneater features a few killing scenes, but none of them are particularly terrifying. The creature looks odd, and the amount of gore it unleashes remains limited and unspectacular. The film tries to build tension by avoiding the usual cheap thrills and scares. While I certainly appreciate such an approach, I would've liked to experience a darker, more threatening atmosphere. Again, the fact that the monster gets active only by peeping at folks having sex just takes away from the terror. If the filmmakers intended for this movie to be more of a comedy than a typical horror flick, I guess they somewhat succeeded.

Although Maneater clearly has the looks of a low-budget film, parts of it are well shot. The editing works mostly as well, and Emanuel did a fairly decent job directing his actors. Cain is the only one turning in a decent performance, but I feel his character could've been easily explored a little more. That's really all there is to say about the cast.

The picture quality of the widescreen presentation on the DVD isn't perfect, and some parts of the movie actually look like they were shot with cheap cameras. The audio transfer is solid. Don't go looking for special features, because the only thing this disc is equipped with in terms of bonus material is a trailer.

Maneater is not a total bore, but the film loses its appeal within the first 30 minutes, getting lost in a wannabe complex concept involving ancient tales about creepy shape-shifters. From there, the plot falls apart quickly as it struggles to raise the stakes in order to keep the story intriguing enough for audiences to hang on until the end. Watching Dean Cain have bad dreams and a bunch of girls have wild sex can only be interesting for so long.

The Verdict


Review content copyright © 2011 Franck Tabouring; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 73

Perp Profile
Studio: E1 Entertainment
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

* English (SDH)

Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks
* None

* IMDb