Primal Rage is a near-textbook example of how to take a decent idea, and a smattering of fun moments, and fumble it in numerous ways that leaves you with a disappointing end result. It's not awful. It just ends up throwing in too many elements that drags it down.
Things start off well. The two lead characters are quickly established as Ashley (Casey Gagliardi) picks up her partner (Max, played by Andrew Joseph Montgomery) after an unfortunate stint in prison. While driving through some quieter areas of the countryside, they hit a wounded man. That's not good, especially as Max was drinking a beer while in the passenger seat. Things go from bad to worse, leading to both of them stuck in the woods. And they're not alone. There's a group of gun-toting locals hunting there. And something else.
I was happy with the opening section of Primal Rage. I liked the leads, I liked the small character details in the script, and I thought I was in for a tight, economical horror that was going to make good use of a sasquatch. Then things started to go downhill.
There's a story strand involving a local Sheriff (Eloy Casados) and his deputy (Justin Rain) that starts off interesting but then takes far too long to get to the main point, in time for the grand finale. There's a strange mix of comedy and menace with those gun-toting locals, undermining what could have been some straightforward moments of tension. And there are the initial appearances of the sasquatch, (unintentionally?) comedic as it pops up in various places like a crappy wood-dwelling stalker.
Director Pactrick Magee, who also co-wrote the film with Jay Lee, makes very good use of his budget. There are fine practical effects on display here, from the kills to the main creature to an ancient-looking witch, the cast all do well, and the shooting style usually manages to keep up with the action without ever being too frenetic or choppy.
The biggest problem, and I feel bad for having to point it out, is that the script has one or two ideas too many. There are two very different potential movies here, they just happen to be meshed together into the one feature. Primal Rage is a film that would work best as a fairly short, brisk, fun creature feature that takes time to build characters up before killing them off in some impressively splattery moments. It's a shame that Magee didn't see that when he turned his 80-90 minute movie into something that feels far too overlong at 106 minutes.
Here is a better, similar, film for you to buy.
Americans can buy it here.