ANIMAL AMONG US (2019)
Directed by John Woodruff
Written by John Woodruff
Starring Larisa Oleynik, Erin Daniels, Heather Tom, Christian Oliver, Christine Donlon, Jonathan Murphy, Eric Tiede, Jasmine Dustin, Don Frye, Dalex Miller, Whitney Davis, Gracie Young, Camryn Molnar
Find out more about this film here!
Being a big fan of Bigfoot films, I couldn’t wait to dive into ANIMAL AMONG US. Turns out it was a film with a lot going for it, though it manages to fumble and bumble its way across the finish line.
Roland Baumgarner (Christian Oliver) seemingly has it all. He’s super model handsome. He’s got a beautiful wife and is expecting his first child. He’s a college professor and the writer of a best selling book about a vicious forest attack at a campground that left everyone dead and those left living full of trauma and questions. All signs pointed towards a character of a Sasquatchonian nature as the culprit. Years later, a pair of siblings Anita (Larisa Oleynik) and Poppy (Christine Donlon) are trying to get people to look past the camp’s horrific past and reopen. When Roland is invited back to the camp for the opening, an all new string of murders begin again. Looks like Bigfoot’s back and Roland might have a new subject for his next book.
If you sensed a bit of snark with my description of the main character, you’re right. I had a really hard time liking this guy because he was way too super model-ly to be believable in this scenario. He makes his beautiful wife look homely. Not only is he handsome, but he’s a Brainiac too! He has the perfect job with students fawning all over his professional prowess. His biggest problem is that he can’t think of an idea for his next book and that’s just not enough to make me care for him. The problem is that the film spends the entire time trying to get you to sympathize with this guy and the acting around him and the scenario was decent enough to do the trick for me. I actually cared for the guy by the end. But then they go ahead and screw that up too. Actor Christian Oliver isn’t terrible, but he isn’t great either. He’s just kind of a piece of meat passed around by the females and ends up paying for it by the time the credits roll. While I think that the hints of Raymond’s infidelity are prevalent in the film, for the most part he is portrayed as a stand-up guy. But the message in the end seems to have seen a different movie and doles out some pretty vicious punishment. This is problematic because it feels like the filmmakers wanted to make a film about infidelity but were hired to do a Bigfoot film and tried to cram it all in one big movie. I don’t think the filmmakers were very successful in doing this.
That said, I loved the scenario at the camp. Actors Larisa Oleynik and Christine Donlon are extremely likable as Anita and Poppy, bickering sisters who co-own the camp. Seeing these two riff off of each other and scheme to keep the camp running are what make this film a lot of fun. The trouble with what looks to be Bigfoot in the woods is done decently and I liked the unexpected twist at the end. This Squatch is downright brutal with those who enter the camp leaving some nice gore in his path. All in all, the camping horror is done well here.
I wish the filmmakers would have stopped at the camping stuff and left the moral outrage on the cutting room floor. ANIMAL AMONG US has some fun with the Bigfoot legend. I like a lot of the characters that populate this one, but I think the lead which seems swiped right from GQ is its weakest link and the film suffers for it.