A film which shows if you plan to go into the wilderness, you need to be more than simply intelligent.
Review (with Spoilers)
As you can likely guess, the sole reason I even saw this movie was because of Maisie Williams, of Game of Thrones fame. Otherwise, there isn’t much to sell this film. For while it is slightly interesting the idea of watching people try to survive the South African wilderness which has snakes, scorpions, hyenas, and also humans as threats, at the same time you aren’t sold that the leads, especially Williams, are some sort of Rambo types. They are scientists and this teenaged girl. But, when people are cornered they do shed their humanity and become like wild animals. Leading to the question: Does the movie roar or whimper?
Characters & Story
Paul (Stephen Dorff) has seemingly dedicated his life to studying Hyenas, even at the expense of spending time with his wife and daughter Jo (Maisie Williams). In fact, his traveling had left his family feeling so abandoned that now he and his wife have separated, if not divorced. And while Paul has moved onto Tally (Svetlana Metkina), poor Jo has never fully recovered from her family being fractured. So, with her starting to fall in with the wrong crowd, Jo’s mom decides it is time for Paul to step up and talk to his daughter. Thus leading to Jo joining Paul and Tally in Africa in order to study Hyenas. Leading to a series of events that force Tally and Jo to become closer than they ever would expect to be.
Just to explain to you how bleh this film is, the Hyenas in the film were more interesting than the actors or story. If just because the use of their laughter makes things so creepy or funny throughout the film. But this isn’t to say, entirely, that the story and actors were horrible. It is just Williams plays an annoying teenager so well that you really don’t care for her at all when you meet her, then with Metkina, while she certainly does come off as a badass, we learn so little about her that this shallowness makes it hard to get into her and Williams as a team.
And really, the overall problem with the film is that it seems so basic. Whether it is the villains of the film seeming like American rednecks who’ve come to South Africa; no real exploration into any of the characters to the point you are given reason to care; and just a general sense that the story wasn’t really trying to convey anything. For while there is a somewhat decent twist in the middle dealing with Paul, from there the film doesn’t really use the potential emotional impact at all for then these almost cartoonish villains come in and take a huge dump on whatever possible redemption the film could have had.
Overall: Skip It
When Hyenas laughing at the most perfect of times is the highlight of the film, you know the film is a clunker. But I really should have known better since what TV actress, especially of a young age, really finds themselves in a good film when they begin to explore the big screen? So, with this lesson learned, hopefully, you can understand why I’m labelling this as “Skip It.” For not only are the animals more intriguing than the humans but neither the story nor performances, really seek to take back the attention the animals get. Making this to be a sad film debut for Williams, and certainly something only fans of hers will likely ever see.