Maneater (2007)

Maneater (2007)

How do you hunt the predator when you are the prey?

A Bengal tiger escapes from a traveling carnival and finds it’s way into the woods outside a small town where it soon stakes it’s territory and begins hunting and killing any people who happen to stray into the woods. It’s up to the local sheriff to find and kill the tiger but how do you take down a six-hundred pound killing machine?

 

Whilst finishing my monthly trawl through the newest releases over at Amazon, I came across a series of films featuring one of my favourite horror sub-genres – that of animals killing people! The ‘Maneater’ series made for The Sci-Fi Channel has featured plenty of clichés in the form of Shark Swarm (predictably dull killer shark flick) and Croc (absolutely dire killer crocodile flick) and they’ve also given the killer treatment to spiders, squid, ants and, unusually enough, monkeys (don’t worry I’ve got all of them on order). Maneater was the third film made in the series and it’s the best one I’ve seen yet. There are not an awful lot of tigers-run-amok films (well not compared to killer shark films anyway) so it’s not like you’ll have seen it all before. Actually you will have seen it all before as it follows the ‘killer animal on the loose in remote community’ formula to the latter. But that doesn’t mean to say it does a bad job.

The good thing about picking a ‘relatively’ normal animal to turn into a killer is evident. I say ‘relatively’ normal because tigers can be trained to respond to situations (within reason) whereas squids or sharks – let me see you try and get them to do circus tricks. The tiger they use here is mostly real, save for an odd CGI shot when needed. The real tiger gives it that added element of danger and unpredictability especially during the scenes where it stalks it’s victims through the deserted streets. On the flip side, it means that you don’t get to see a lot of people being savaged by it and most of the deaths happen off-screen so those expecting the scary-looking thing on the front cover to maul away on some rednecks are going to be disappointed. For safety reasons, filming a real tiger attacking an actor isn’t the best idea in the world. You do get to see the tiger’s handiwork in all of its glory with plenty of blood and limbs being left at the scene. It’s just the initial attacks that are confined to your imagination. There are plenty of attacks throughout the film and a great job is done to turn the tiger into a real threat.

Gary Busey looks really desperate for work in this. I’m not criticising his performance as he’s one of the best things of the film, it’s just that he could quite easily command better roles. I mean who hasn’t seen Lethal Weapon or Under Siege and thought Busey was a bad ass psycho in both films? He’s really good here as the sheriff and he still maintains that psychotic glint in his eye – this is a sheriff who is about two donuts away from snapping and killing everyone in sight.

Ian D. Clark portrays the English game hunter and, whilst his mannerisms and uber-posh accent ticked me off to no end (no one wears those pith helmets anymore, do they?) he still brings an ounce of dignity to the proceedings. His attitude towards the tiger and the respect he shows it is one of the reasons why the tiger works so well. Like the shark in Jaws for instance, the script does a good job of having the characters all show some level of respect and acknowledge at the damage and skill that their beast can do. Even if it’s not on the screen, the other characters are still building it up as a serious threat.

If you’ve seen one of these ‘killer animal on the loose in remote community’ films than unfortunately you’ve seen them all and this one is no exception. The animal involved kills some people. The sheriff doesn’t know what is going on at first until they realise what they’re up against. Authority figure in town/community doesn’t believe him and refuses to let the local festival/special event be disrupted by a load of nonsense about some killer animal roaming the area. An expert on the animal is called in or turns up. Said expert joins forces with the sheriff. Etc, etc. It’s standard fare and Maneater doesn’t do a lot to sway from the formula. A load of random characters are introduced for a few minutes prior to being chowed down. You’ve got joggers. You’ve got hunters. You’ve got police deputies. You’ve got soldiers. They’re all here to up the body count. The film is pretty well paced so there’s never an overly dull moment and thanks to the wonders of using a real tiger, there is quite a lot of tension in some of the scenes of the group in the forest trying to find it.

 

Maneater is proof that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” It follows its rigid formula to the letter and manages to throw a few nice moments here and there to turn itself into a solid, if unremarkable, film.

 

 ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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