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June 2011

Primevil

cast: Emily Foxler, Nick Mennell, Marc Bacher, Brianna Brown, and Lance Henriksen

director: Roel Reiné

85 minutes (15) 2010
widescreen ratio 1.77:1
Revolver DVD Region 2

RATING: 4/10
review by Jim Steel

Primevil

Don't confuse this with the ITV children's-encyclopaedia shoot-'em-up, Primeval, although both do feature monsters from our past. The ape-men in this film (also known as The Lost Tribe), lacking time travel, have had to get here the hard way. They've managed to survive all this time by hiding out on a remote Caribbean coastal area, which, given their proclivity for cannibalism and extreme violence, must be one of the most remarkable feats of all time. There are a couple of other jaw-dropping facts in this film but - be warned - no matter how far you drop your jaw, you'll still be unable to swallow them.

It does have its moments, though, especially as the end approaches; but there is nothing here that is unfamiliar. A dollop of Descent and a big splash of heavily-diluted Deodato have gone into the gumbo, as well as sprinkles of Lost and Predator, and a little dash of Dan Brown-esque conspiracy thriller. Some logical plotting or characterisation might have been nice, but you can't have everything. Anyway, the pre-credit scene shows a jungle archaeology dig pulling bits of skeletons out of the ground and on the verge of a big breakthrough (with an Alsatian wandering around the trenches - well, dogs do love bones). Then we see Lance Henriksen and his team executing one of the last of the survivors. Have the archaeologists stumbled on a covert military experiment?

Our main cast of cannon fodder are to be found on a private yacht which is on its way to an important meeting - although not important enough for them to need to fly there - when they pick up a raving, shipwrecked survivor (Caleb Campbell) from the pre-credit sequence. Our intrepid five manage to restrain him but he escapes in the night and steers the yacht onto rocks - a doubly ironic fate for him as he was very insistent that they all get away from the area immediately. He drowns, but the five survive. However, they soon find that they are being hunted down by the ape-men and Henriksen.

The ape-men, fortunately, have very poor eyesight and can be fooled by smearing oneself in mud and berries. Unfortunately, they can also leap 20 metres, which they do frequently despite being surrounded by trees and suffering from very poor eyesight. Henriksen, giving the impression that he managed all of his filming in just one day, is only around long enough to reveal that he is a hitman for the church. The archaeologists, you see, have uncovered the missing link, thus proving once and for all the fallacy of Genesis and undermining the authority of the church. Someone, one feels, should warn the Leakey Foundation pronto.

The five intrepid yuppies are so thinly characterised that they run the risk of vanishing when they turn side on, but special mention must be made of Brianna Brown who plays a one-note hippy chick (under-developed even by the low standards seen elsewhere) and who is quite obviously not going to be the last person standing, and Hadley Fraser, who, despite (or maybe because of) being born in Windsor, spectacularly fails to convince as an Englishman: "That's like looking for Noel Gallagher at Old Trafford, innit?" What the hell is that supposed to mean? Gallagher's a Manchester City fan and wouldn't be caught dead in Old Trafford. It defies deconstruction.

Primevil is technically competent and won't offend from that angle, although the sooner the fad for handheld camerawork passes the better. It has its place as a way of replicating real-life handheld camerawork but when there is no camera in the narrative then it shouldn't be used. People do not see things crazily jerking around in front of them while they are running because the human brain has evolved to compensate for movement. To be fair, Primevil is not by any means the worst offender here.



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