Starring: F. Murray Abraham, Matt Ryan, Laura Aikman
Director: Robert Young
Duration: 88 mins
A group of stereotypes take a flight to Africa to work on a secret anthropology project lead by Professor Hamilton and his assistant. Upon meeting him, the students are told that they will be apart of a discovery of great importance. Despite the students' every reservation brought to the attention of the professor, they follow him every step of the way, deep into an uncharted and unexplored valley in the jungle. At least they think it's unexplored up until they find that the professor's previous party is found ripped to shreds. By what? A giant race of monkey, of course. And now the students must escape Professor Hamilton before he uses them all as bait.
Now, I mentioned that the group of students were stereotypes. In fact, they are the most cliched assortment you could ever wish for: the hot chick, the jock, the nerd, the minority chick, normal guy, and normal girl. Add a mad scientist and his brutal, yet beautiful, henchwoman, and we got ourselves a movie. These latter two characters are the most hateable villains you could ask for, and what torments the viewer the most is that our heroes don't try to fight back until it's too late. As far as the acting is concerned, it's rather forgettable. Nothing great, but nothing inept.
Now the monster (or monsters?) that make the movie what it is are almost always unseen. This is actually a huge plus for the film, because when you get to see one of them during the last few seconds of the film, it's very CGI. Less is indeed more, and I for one am glad the filmmakers kept the beasties off-screen for as long as possible. What do work are the scares and the sound. First, there are a couple of jump moments one wouldn't expect from a direct-to-DVD monster movie of this caliber. And it's not the ultra cheap "oh I saw that coming a mile away" type of scares, it's more like "oh I SHOULD'VE seen that coming a mile away." They aren't much, but they keep you on your toes. Second, the sound, especially the grunts and growls of the monkeys, are pretty terrifying, or at least would be terrifying if they were backed up by a scary monster.
Technical details aside, I had a blast watching this movie. I know it's bound to become a frequently watched film in my future because it has most of the elements I look for in a feature: diverse characters, lack of seriousness, blood (here and there), good picture quality despite the obviously low budget, a quick(-ish) pace. The only problem I have, and again don't think of me as a sleaze, is the lack of nudity when sensuality was implied. I don't mind no nudity in a film, but when you have nubile hotties onscreen bending over, wearing pink underwear, and flirting, you gotta have SOME payoff. Teasing is not fun, kids. Don't do it. Maybe you can get away with it in a drama, or even a comedy, but not a horror movie that has little else going for it.
In conclusion, I liked it, but overall it was average. I predict you'll be able to catch it on the Sci Fi Chan-... er, I mean SyFy (*facepalm*) if you're interested, as it seems to meet all of their criteria.