Lionsgate // 2013 // 85 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Alice Nelson // January 2nd, 2014
Just wanting something doesn't make it happenâ€¦or does it?
Martin Blaine (Matt O'Neill) has anger issues. After he punches the director of the film he's working on, the director agrees not to press charges as long as Martin gets help managing his anger. Someone recommends a hypnotherapist named Dr. Stein (Reggie Bannister, Phantasm) who unwittingly unlocks a dark evil that had been lying dormant since Martin was a small child. This darkness manifests itself in the flesh, as a fearsome fanged monster that enacts deadly vengeance on anyone Martin considers an enemy. Problem is Martin can't control the monster, but with the help of Dr. Stein he hopes to stop the creature before it kills again.
Not bad, not bad. I was expecting the low budget horror film Primitive to make me want to gouge my eyes out, a decision solely based on the cheesy cover art that appears to be some dude in a gorilla costume. But as they say (whoever 'they' are), never judge a book by its cover, or a film by its awful DVD jacket, because this is quite the pleasant surprise.
Martin is the quick tempered special effects expert at the helm of this strange tale. He was a special child, able to make things happen just by thinking long and hard on them. However, the results were never good for the focus of his attention. When he was eight, Martin's thoughts rendered his no good father el deado, as he helped dad's Ford truck careen off a cliff, and voila, the bully couldn't abuse Martin's mother any longer.
But Martin doesn't even realize he has this gift until a visit with Dr. Stein opens the door again to Martin's dark side. Unfortunately for everyone back home, it shows itself when Martin returns to attend his mother's funeral. The trip reignites his animosity for dear old Uncle Gary who swooped in to marry Martin's mother much too soon, in Martin's estimation, after his father's death. Hey Gary, watch out!
The acting in is serviceable, but not as bad as you might think from a cast of mostly unknowns. But lucky for us "The hardest working man in horror," Reggie Bannister, is on board playing a most bizarre therapist, and his over the top acting suits the part just fine. Director Benjamin Cooper proves he's more than capable as he guides his actors through performances they can be very proud of. Cooper even has a small role as the director Martin punches -- I know, not much of a stretch, but he's still good in the part.
Primitive is the lone credit on IMDb for writer Kenneth L. Province Jr, and this screenwriting newbie produces a fairly solid and entertaining story. Sure it gets a bit chaotic towards the climax, when Dr. Stein turns up and tries to repair the mess he's made, but what horror movie doesn't cross the boundaries of believability at one point or another. And in this fun little romp that can easily be overlooked.
Primitive offers a 1.78:1 widescreen presentation nicely shot with crisp colors, clear images, and night scenes where one doesn't have to strain the brain to see what's going down. The Dolby 5.1 Surround track makes for a pleasant auditory experience, and dialogue that is crystal clear. Extras include an audio commentary with director Cooper and a few of the actors from the film, an in-depth interview with Reggie Bannister, a few outtakes, and a very informative featurette with Tom Devlin of 1313FX, the company that provided the special effects for Primitive. Devlin explains his practical use of special effects in the scene in which Martin's father drives his truck off the cliff. Through the use of Photoshop and After Effects, Devlin shows that a little ingenuity can make an audience believe that a man drives his truck over a steep cliff to his very timely death. Extremely well done, especially considering it is all on a shoestring budget.
Don't go into Primitive looking for Oscar caliber performances, because you will be disappointed. Think of it like this: you're invited to the home of very wonderful and gracious people. They don't have a lot of money, however, they make you a helluva mac and cheese casserole -- it ain't steak and lobster but it's delicious nonetheless.
What does the fox say? Not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 85 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Rated R
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