Primal is an interesting horror movie, one that changes direction on several occasions resulting in a thrilling & fun watch that is marred by silly effects.
A group of young adult friends have backpacked into the Australian wilds to see some ancient cave paintings. Dace (Wil Traval) is the lead on this being an anthropology student while the rest are just happy to explore the wilderness & party hard…obviously.
Once they arrive, they have a look at the paintings & wonder about the mysterious cave nearby. They then set up camp & the usual drunken shenanigans occur. One character, Mel (Krew Boylan) decides to skinny dip in a pond emerging to discover she is covered in leeches. That night she starts to get ill, firstly just a fever before he teeth fall out & her mouth oozes blood.
This segment is pretty visceral & leads you to believe you’re in for a body horror movie such as Cabin Fever. However, the next day Mel has grown large, sharp teeth and is animalistic in her behaviour. She roars, jumps inhumanly, is super-strong & also has no issue with biting chunks out of her friends.
She’s gone primal…
So what significance does the cave have?
Primal takes a little while to really get going, at first being a copy & paste job of many other horror films. You know the score, young adults wander somewhere they shouldn’t & end up in trouble. It’s the same here but a decent cast & an eventful second half help make it stand out a bit more.
The ‘going feral’ thing might not be particularly original either but Primal tells its story well. You’re never 100% clear as to what has caused it until the end which adds an even darker tone to the fairly harsh visuals. Characters are scared it might happen to them while also not willing to just accept that their friend is completely gone.
Their attempts to rationalise what is happening is believable & those moments where they look like they might be getting through to the infected can be quite tense.
It’s far from a faultless experience though. As said above it does take a while to get going but in addition a few secondary characters are completely forgettable. If it wasn’t for good performances from Krew Boylan, Zoe Tuckwell-Smith & Lindsay Farris the movie would really suffer.
Some of the effects are also a bit suspect. Certain huge jumps & throws made by the primal infected look fake (almost stop-motion like/a dummy) & the big reveal inside the cave is pretty awful looking.
These are the only real drawbacks in an otherwise decent effort to add a new spin on the ‘infected’ plot angle.