Primal Rage Review

Primal Rage is a 2018 horror film about a newly reunited young couple’s drive through the Pacific Northwest that turns into a nightmare.

I’m just gonna go ahead and write the word ‘Bigfoot’ here and let you have a moment to get past all the expectations you have about what that typically means in movies. You know the ones, cheesy chase-and-hunt stories with fleeting glimpses of some actor in a fursuit running through the woods after horny teens. It’s a tried and true formula that’s churned out a surprisingly long list of generic horror movies, and while some are fun, most are forgettable. With writer/director (in his debut) Patrick Magee‘s Primal Rage, however, things are absolutely not what you think, and while it might travel along a few familiar routes, is a brutal, fresh take on the lore.  

Max Carr (Andrew Joseph Montgomery) is just out of a year-long prison stint, picked up by guarded wife Ashley (Casey Gagliardi), the two obviously anxious and uneasy about the reunion. Driving home through the Pacific Northwest, they run into trouble, literally, when they hit a man on the side of the road. Thing is, he’s already pretty messed up, looking as if he’s been attacked by something wild. However, as Ashley hurriedly calls in the accident, someone or something starts throwing rocks at Max, and in the chaos, the two are suddenly over a short cliff, into a river and swept into the forest with only the clothes on their back. It’s not long after though before they realize they are being stalked by a monstrous creature, it out for blood. But that’s not all that they find in the woods.

Credit goes to Magee (whose background is in effects, from AI- Artificial Intelligence to Men in Black III) for dipping into two wells and making it work, one being bigfoot mythology and the other, crazy locals with guns running amok. Obviously, the point in the latter is to provide fodder for the first, and in so doing, give the movie plenty of moments to get nasty. This ain’t no ordinary Bigfoot however, the creature loosely based on the Hoopa Indian name for the legendary beast (one of many names Native Americans have for the monster). While it retains the fur, the height, and the grunts and growls, this Bigfoot is a far cry from the norm. I won’t spoil why that it is or what the beast does so differently, but be sure, it’s not at all what you expect. Seriously.

But does it work? Well, honestly, yes. A resounding yes. Primal Rage is far from conventional, going out of its way not to be, playing a twisted game of monster in the dark, à la Predator with a bit of King Kong … if say King Kong were a malicious, murderous psychopath. It’s disturbing and dark and sometimes gory (reminding me a bit of 2015’s excellent Bone Tomahawk), but here’s the bend in the road that surprises. It’s dedicated to its characters, devoting a lot time to Max and Ashley at the start in what amounts to some very touching moments of growth. In fact, steer this away from the horror and this could have been an entirely different movie about a young couple struggling to piece their lives back together. In a sense, it already is.

Of course, in truth, it’s not that. This is an action horror movie and Magee commits to it with jarring results the further in we go. With good work from veterans Eloy Casados and Marshal Hilton, there is a lot to like here, especially for genre fans. Magee’s creative direction, truly good cinematography, and excellent score really raise the stakes, turning what is essentially a B-movie thriller into a next level monster flick. This is the best Bigfoot movie to come along in ages.

Primal Rage is expected to release early this year.

Primal Rage Review


Director(s): Patrick Magee

Actor(s): Casey Gagliardi, Andrew Joseph Montgomery, Eloy Casados

Genre: Horror, Action

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