Emma is a businesswoman coming from Australia who, after being attacked and drugged by a taxi driver, wakes up tied to a chair in a filthy cabin. She soon learns she’s the night’s amusement for a man named Jim and his loyal associates Pete and Shirley. She must now do everything she can to survive.
Emma (Hanna Oldenburg), an ambiguously charged executive for an equally ambiguous oil company is in a hotel room at night getting ready for a press conference. But that’s not important. The news plays in the background showing protestors acting out against Emma’s seemingly important decision to sign a deal. What deal? No, still not important. After signing some contract in a sleek-looking hotel suite this mogul takes a taxi (stop thinking) to the press conference (again, don’t think) and is kidnapped, chloroformed, and she wakes up tied to a chair, in a ramshackle house, in the middle of nowhere. Her captors Jim (Ralf Beck) and Pete (Torbjörn Andersson) sneer at her. No one knows what’s going on, who anyone is, or why anyone is doing anything.
“…after being attacked and drugged by a taxi driver, wakes up tied to a chair in a filthy cabin.”
Thus begins the remarkably awful film, Animalistic. A film which features wanton violence, wildly offensive slurs, and a plot that, well wait, there is no plot to speak of. This is in the top 10 worst films of the year alongside Butcher the Bakers and Truth Or Dare. To boil it down to an elevator pitch, it’s the story of a posh business woman that gets kidnapped, raped, and tortured. Think I Spit On Your Grave but far less cerebral and a lot less satisfying.
After being tied up, the taxi driver that seems to be in on the gag rapes Emma by performing oral sex on her. Next, the previous captive, another woman with a tattered tank top and lacerations, gets shot in the head, right in front of our protagonist. Okay, moving on, we get a bit of character development between Jim, the smarter one, and Pete, the dumb one about the mental games JIm plans to play on Emma. The fleeting prospect of a throughline fades into the ether, and we are back to more stupidity. Then there is the reference to Jim actually having a double life with a family somewhere offsite. An interesting moment. Contrived, yes, but dammit, any port in a storm, you know?
Then there are the eyebrow-raising epithets used for gritty effect. At one point, Emma calls her captor a “faggot.” In another scene, she calls the slower, dopier thug a “retard” then in two separate scenes, Jim is whipping bumbling Pete and twice calls him something that sounded dangerously close to the N word. This film has it all.
“…the hodgepodge of European accents. This is a pretty international picture.”
I can forgive the hodgepodge of European accents. This is a pretty international picture. I can forgive the lack of budget when I see the blatant green screen use. I can accept plot holes if the writers and the director are reaching for something far greater with a much deeper meaning in mind. I cannot abide the gimmicky use of slurs, violence, and taboo subjects in the hands of filmmakers entirely incapable of wielding such dangerous weapons.
There is a reason we look back at Last House on the Left with admiration. That’s not the best film, not by a long shot, but it knew how to look at violence and exploitation. It’s pretty bad when a film’s two one-minute rape scenes make you long for the grueling 9-minute, single shot rape scene in Irreversible.
I offer one compliment here and that is that is to the team behind the make-up effects. There is perfectly acceptable work done here with some effective moments. Everyone else, go back to film school if you were there in the first place. Or, try less edgy material.
Animalistic (2018) Directed by Sonny Laguna, Tommy Wiklund. Written by Sonny Laguna, David Liljeblad. Starring Hanna Oldenburg, Ralf Beck, Torbjörn Andersson.
2 out of 10 stars