Savage (2009)

Savage (2009)

Some creatures are best left undiscovered

As fire fighters battle a blaze which is ripping its way through Bear Valley National Park, the forest animals are being forced out of their natural habitat. But there is one beast which emerges from the forest that was best left undiscovered, proving the local legends about Bigfoot to be true.

 

When a film has to proudly boast an IMDB user quote on the front of its poster because no one else has anything positive to say, that’s a pretty damning verdict from the get-go. Bigfoot horror Savage is one such example, with an IMDB user proclaiming this “way better than just about any other Bigfoot movie out there.” Clearly the said user has never seen Abominable. But the Bigfoot sub-genre has never been one to set the world alight and despite a slew of Sasquatch-related horror films over recent years and with the exception of Abominable, it’s been painful to experience.

Savage is a film that rarely lives up to its title. A promising opening scene in which fire fighters are attacked in the forest proves to be a false dawn and the film becomes less ‘savage’ and more ‘domesticated.’ It is neutered viewing, with little gore, kills that are mostly done off-screen and a distinct lack of violence and aggression. There’s no real tension, suspense, atmosphere or any sort of horror factor and on many occasions the film borders on dull documentary-like levels of pedestrianism. Scenes inside the forest which could have been built up to generate some dread and menace before the trigger was pulled are simply left to meander aimlessly until the next scene. There’s nothing savage and primitive about this film – rarely has Bigfoot been so boring.

There are a couple of sub-plots thrown in for good measure to keep the film going including the unscrupulous mayor who wants to build a tourist resort at the town and a pair of bank robbers on the run from a botched hold-up. But these are minor filler, not really given enough time to warrant full-blown connection with the audience and just eating up dialogue which could have been better used towards creating some sort of central conflict between the party of humans trekking through the woods and Bigfoot. Or even stripped away completely and some more time given towards making the film exciting. There’s literally a handful of ‘action’ sequences and even the big pay-off finale ends in little more than a whimper.

It doesn’t help that most of the cast are just as bland with the exception of Martin Kove. As he who played the evil sensei famous for the “Sweep the leg” quote from The Karate Kid, Kove does his turn as the backwoods tracker who borrows plenty from Robert Shaw’s Quint character from Jaws. It’s hardly a great performance but at least it seems he is making an effort to liven things up. On the other hand, Tony Becker could put anyone to sleep with a lifeless performance as the lead park ranger and he sucks out what little energy Kove had injected into proceedings. This guy seriously needed some coffee or energy bar.

And finally we come to the star of the show. What do you expect Bigfoot to look like? Or more correctly, how do you expect Bigfoot to be portrayed in a low budget horror film. That’s the million dollar question I asked myself before I sat down to watch Savage. The correct answer is a guy-in-a-suit and that’s what we get here. Given the nature of Bigfoot, there’s no way that CGI would be able to properly represent the creature. It is supposed to be, after all, the ‘missing link’ in human evolution so the only feasible solution is to dress a guy up in a fancy dress costume. The only question is how good or bad does it look? Well you don’t get to see a lot of it apart from a few glimpses in the finale and what you do get to see is adequate and serves its purpose.

The problem Savage has is how the creature moves. Here, it is able to haul fully-grown men single-handed into the trees, is capable of swinging around like the Predator from tree to tree and possesses ridiculous land speed. No explanation is given to how it came to be or the fact that some characters religiously believe in its existence and others have never even thought about it, despite living in the same town.

 

Savage isn’t the worst Bigfoot film out but it could well be the most boring. It does a few things right and it gets bonus marks for avoiding the CGI monster route but it’s far too bland for its own good and just not exciting in the slightest. Savage? More like Gentle.

 

 ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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