Genres / Traits:
Natural Horror, Thriller,
A news team is sent to Burundi to capture and bring home a legendary 25-foot crocodile. Their difficult task turns potentially deadly when a warlord targets them for death.
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Last year, the horror genre got off to an abysmal start with ridiculous schlock like "Hostel". In fact, that was the first film I saw in 2006, and it didn't do the year justice. This year, "Children of Men" was my first film of 2007, and even though I consider in 2006, thank God for it nevertheless. In terms of horror films, my year was kicked off with "Primeval", a low-budget horror flick that did nothing for me, in trailer form. In fact, it looked nothing short of absolutely undeniably awful. There's just something about a killer crocodile that doesn't send audiences rushing and gushing to the multiplexes, unless it stars Bill Pullman and Oliver Platt. In fact, the only reason I went to see the film in the first place was that "Alpha Dog" was not playing at a suitable time to get me where I needed to be that evening. But, as hard as this is going to be to believe, it was one of the most entertaining decisions I have made in a while, seeing as how "Primeval" was one hell of an entertaining little action/horror flick. I would have never guessed it. And I do mean never.
Think of "Primeval" as "Lake Placid" meets "Hotel Rwanda". I know that sounds a little bizarre, so let me explain. After several villagers and a British scientist are killed by a gigantic crocodile named Gustave, a reporter (Dominic Purcell) is teamed with a cameraman (Orlando Jones), an exec who might be screwing the boss (Brooke Langton), a veteran tracker and poacher (Jurgen Prochnow), and a rip-off of Steve Irwin (Gideon Emery). They are sent to a remote corner of the African country of Burundi, which borders Rwanda. This country is in a state of civil war, between two feuding tribes, and the team find themselves not only running from the crocodile, but also from the warlords and mercenaries of Burundi. "Primeval" focuses just as much on the slaughter of innocents at the hands of the militia as it does the slaughter of the innocents at the jaws of a man-eating crocodile. The reason many say the crocodile developed a taste for human blood was from all fo the corpses tossed into the river from the mass killings. Oh, and get this - this film is evidently based on true events. I know - how can you buy a killer crocodile film with a social conscience, and you really can't - but that didn't make the film any less enjoyable.
For me, this is what "Snakes On A Plane" could have been. "Primeval" recognizes how cheesy it seems, at times, and it embraces that cheese with full-on commitment and zeal. This film also reminded me quite a bit of "Congo", with the set-up and the adventure. And that's one thing you will certainly find quite a bit of in "Primeval" - adventure. These characters go through hell upon hell upon hell, at the hands of the reptile and the militia. People are brutally slaughtered, heads and limbs are ripped to shreds, and even a poor goat is murdered. All the while, this level of humor keeps the film afloat throughout. When a young African boy saves the team from being shot, a frightened Orlando Jones utters, "If I have to shove you up my ass to get you through customs, you are going to the United States." Sure, the special effects are as cheesy as they come, and even though it was released years ago, "Lake Placid" still surpasses this film in that department - but, there's just something endearing about a thirty-foot crocodile dancing on the roof of a steel cage that makes the little boy in me wet myself. This was good old fashioned fun film-making.
Do we even need discuss performances in a film like "Primeval"? Probably not, but I will anyways since that is what I always do. Dominic Purcell and Brooke Langton are horrible. Sorry. Hate to rain on their parades, but acting is not their cup of tea. Did it distract me from the film? Obviously not because I am giving it a positive review. Orlando Jones did exactly what Orlando Jones was placed in the movie to do - be a viable comic relief. He has some of the most entertaining lines in recent horror/comedy history, one of which was quoted earlier in this review. Jurgen Prochnow looks excited as hell to be in this film, though I suspect he is just excited to still be working anymore. I totally believed him as the eccentric and dangerous poacher type, and he reminded me of Tim Curry's great Hermerker Hamolka from "Congo". The one character and performance I did loathe was Gideon Emery. I'm sorry, but Steve Irwin has not been dead long enough for a character like this to totally emulate him and even mock some of his sayings and doings. I didn't enjoy that aspect of the film. Jones and Prochnow were fine, and the rest were slightly above lackluster.
So, does "Primeval" pack a lot of bite? In the form of entertainment and suspense, sure. I was laughing and jumping throughout the whole damn film, and that is something that happens all too seldom these days. I wish they had toned down the political commentary a little and amped up the croc effects just a little, but what do you expect from a low budget horror film like this? The location shots were gorgeous and this was definitely very well shot, and the opening death sequence was one of the best from recent memory; so, with all that said, I recommend this film to both horror lovers and fans of cheesy action films like "Congo" and "Lake Placid". This film will be right up your alley. Don't go in expecting something more than what you would expect from those films and you won't be disappointed. "Primeval" was a pleasant surprise for this critic, and the killer crocodile sub-genre seems to be alive and well. However, I wouldn't suggest imitators.
- added 01/16/2007, 02:27 AM
Quote: "The killer crocodile sub-genre seems to
be alive and well. However, I wouldn't suggest
You must not have heard
about Rogue. Or Black Water. Or Supergator. The
first two sound interesting, and the third...
well, you've gotta love Roger Corman.
- added 01/16/2007, 02:42 PM
Why? Why would there be a need for MORE killer
crocodile movies? At least one seems to involve
an alligator, so I guess that's 'original'. And
even Roger Corman can't make a decent killer
crocodile movie. Does anyone remember
- added 01/25/2007, 03:35 AM
I'll definately agree with the abundance of great
Jones lines. Probably my favorite being "You know,
I never thought I'd say this to white people, but
maybe slavery was a good idea. Anything to get you
the fuck out of Africa!"
- added 06/26/2007, 06:57 PM
This just didn't do anything for me, at all.
1. Horrible CGI effects that completely
ruined the action sequences (sort of hard to be
scared and/or thrilled when you're laughing at the
2. If the CGI doesn't kill it
for you, the MTV-style editing will. Seriously,
do we need twenty different camera angles at 0.5
seconds apiece for every footstep?
comedic relief black guy (some good quotes, but
the character stopped being funny ages ago)
4. Horrible acting
6. Worse pacing
are but a few of the reasons I disliked it, but I
did find a few good moments in the film. For
that, I'd go with a 2/10.
- added 06/26/2007, 09:44 PM
i want to see it, just because alligator movies
are great. Lake Placid was a perfect mix of
horror/comedy, and I was kind of hoping this would
be the same.