Thursday, May 10, 2018

Oh-Mah Goodness: Primal Rage (2018)

Primal Rage (2018) (AKA "Primal Rage: The Legend of Oh-Mah")
Rating: ***
Starring:  Casey Gagliardi, Andrew Joseph Montgomery, Jameson Pazak

Ah, Bigfoot slashers, where my love for bodycounting cross paths with my love for monsters of all shapes and sizes. There's few of them around like the 1980 cheesy backwoods horror Night of the Demon, the 2008 Southernfried Wildman of The Navidad and the 2014 found footage-styled Exists, but now it appears we have a new title for the collection, promising Native American folklore, woodland violence and a Rambo-esque Bigfoot in a mask, wielding a friggin' bow and arrow set!

Fresh out of the slammer, ex-convict Max is picked up by his wife Ashley and their car ride home is anything but calm as they argue about where to go from here for the sake of their troubled marriage and a young son they both dearly love. After stopping by for gas and running into a group of hostile locals, the couple suddenly find themselves in a distressing yet unusual predicament when a mauled man slams unto their car and, whilst calling the police to report the accident, something in the woods begin throwing rocks at them, hitting Max and sending him and his wife down a cliff and into the rapids below.

Somehow surviving this, Max and Ashley end up miles into the woods cold and alone, but in their eventual attempts to make it way back to the road, they encounter again the same locals that antagonized them earlier, who just so happens to be hunting nearby, forming a very uneasy alliance after they agree to help them. (But not before playing the couple around for fools) What all of them doesn't know, however, is that the same creature responsible for the mauled man have been stalking them all this time, bent on dwindling their numbers down in the most painful ways possible.

Coming out as a melting pot of Deliverance (1972), Predator (1987), a Friday the 13th sequel and even Pumpkinhead (1988) with a strong dash of "Redsploitation", Primal Rage (2018) can either be a fun mish-mash or an overambitious mess that led to same old "same old" backwoods slasher romp, depending on whose eyes will be viewing it.

For the right audience, there's plenty to enjoy from Primal Rage; the gore comes strong and early with a neat looking human road kill and, after a few scenes of backwoods walking and surviving courtesy of our two main casts, we're soon treated to more human casualties as our creature goes Rambo on the local hicks with knives, axes and the aforementioned bow-and-arrow, done in lovely latex and corn syrup practical effects. The creature himself, named Oh-Mah, also looks wonderfully done with an impressive design and concept, first appearing as a hairy juggernaut clad in tree bark armor and mask like a classic masked slasher, before going full ape cryptid on us in the third act. The make-up work done for this monster are just awesome and I like how they gave it a rather unique (albeit cliched) nearly-supernatural backdrop that allows it to possess some human characteristics such as the ability to use weapons, hide possible evidences of his rampage (like leftover meat) and even bear a warped-up motive, making this incarnation of the cryptid less of an animal and more of a menace.

There's also some good human tension before the monstrous massacre, first between our husband and wife before shifting focus to them going toe to toe against a pack of strangers. These scenes work for me as not only it gave us a couple of protagonists with a level of depth (read, "a" level) but they also allow us to root for their survival a tad easier as it clearly shows these two are not prepared for any of this to happen, even more than your usual backwoods slasher victims. My gripe to this is that some factors to these developments were not fully explored, such as the crime that lead Max in jail in the first place, as well as their time before said crime was made. For a film that nearly ran two hours, a few of those minutes could have been  used better covering these aspects, especially with how much it is hinted for a good part of the movie.

Further issues I have with Primal Rage is that it more or less lost its steam at the third act, with nearly all disposable characters murdered gruesomely by then and one of our protagonists gets abducted for "mating purposes." (yes, this is the second bodycounter I get to see feature Bigfoot getting down and dirty on some poor unsuspecting lass. For the first, please shift your attention to Night of the Demon (1980)) The climax hobbles tediously long on a non-believing Native American-born sheriff trying to get back to its roots to fully understand the threat that keeps killing his people, which clumsily (and psychedelically) adds very little to what was already established, nor did I find any of it to be all that important and/or make any sense, but at least the final fight between Oh-Mah and Max was worth the momentary headache and the kinda groan-inducing twist reveal later that has the word "sequel" written all over it.

For all its good moments and bad ones, Primal Rage could have been worse. It's definitely lacking at some department, but the overall result is still a slick, impressive-looking monster/slasher hybrid that deserves some of the praises it is getting, and too a few criticisms along the way. So if you're anything like me and loves a good bodycounting beasty with a fair amount of gore and guts, then I heartily recommend this picture.

1 male hit by a car, dies from maul wounds
1 male shot through the neck with an arrow
1 male pinned to a tree through the neck with a shot arrow, head thumbed and pulped
1 male decapitated with a hatchet
1 male shot through the mouth with an arrow
1 male shot with a hunting rifle
1 male had his throat cut with a dagger
1 male had his jaw ripped apart, head stomped
1 male cut open with a knife, disemboweled
1 male had his throat mauled open
1 creature had his head pulped with a rock
1 male shot dead with arrows
Total: 12

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