Although we’ve yet to confirm his/her existence in real life, Bigfoot is no stranger to the world of film. From family-friendly comedies to found-footage massacres, the sasquatch is one of cinema’s most versatile characters, despite there not being a definitive version of the fuzzy guy (or gal) on-screen yet. Patrick Magee’s new thriller, Primal Rage, attempts to remedy this issue with a Native American inspired creature wrecking havoc in the wilderness.
Primal Rage stars Andrew Joseph Montgomery as Max, a recently released convict being picked up from prison by his wife Ashley, played by Casey Gagliardi. During their tumultuous ride home, the couple is involved in an unfortunate accident, unleashing the wrath of a giant hairy humanoid lurking in the woods. As they’re hunted down by this insanely strong (not to mention unexpectedly intelligent) beast, Max and Ashley must learn to trust each other once again in order to survive the ordeal.
While the setup has more than enough potential to spark a thrilling tale of man versus beast, Magee’s thriller also delves into the supernatural lore of the beast known to Native Americans as the Oh-Mah. This is both a blessing and a curse, though it results in one of the most menacing depictions of a sasquatch in film, as the monstrous creature retains some level of human-like intelligence instead of acting like a simple-minded wild animal.
Nevertheless, Max and Ashley’s relationship remains at the heart of the film, as Casey and Andrew share some great chemistry, though it would have been nice to flesh out more details of their marriage before Max was arrested. Hell, the young couple even has a child that’s only briefly mentioned in the beginning of the movie and doesn’t even factor into the plot. Despite this, these are still likable main characters, which makes things even more impactful when they’re threatened.
The film does a great job at establishing atmosphere and tension, as the antagonist feels genuinely frightening despite Bigfoot having become a child-friendly pop-culture icon at this point. The top-notch special effects are definitely responsible for this, as there are very few moments where it’s obvious that the creature is just a guy in a suit. The gore is also exceptionally believable, with some incredibly brutal moments towards the second half of the movie.
Sadly, the story does drag a bit during the second act, with a few bloated scenes and several side characters that simply aren’t as interesting or well developed as the main couple. A tighter script might have fixed these issues, as the film completely loses its intensity when it cuts back to other, barely established characters.
Regardless of its flaws, Primal Rage is still an incredibly entertaining monster movie, boasting some amazing practical effects and a scary villain. The story might not be all that engaging, but Magee nearly makes up for that with some intense chases and wicked gore. If you’re tired of boring reality shows about finding bigfoot and feel like watching something a bit more intense, this is definitely the film for you.