A very weird and cheap little film.
Animal Among Us kept me marginally enthralled through its entirety, and really, the best I can offer is that it’s weird and cheap, occasionally endearingly so, but mostly it’s a rolling mess.
Somewhere in the California wilderness lies Camp Merrymaker, a blighted spot that’s been closed for 15 years due to a couple kids getting mauled to death by a mysterious creature.
Anita Bishop (Larisa Oleynik) and her sister Poppy (Christine Donlon) are the cute caretakers of this forsaken forest community. They hope to reopen the ill-reputed summer camp with the help of Roland Baumgarner (Christian Oliver), the best-selling author who originally wrote about The Merrymaker Murderer case.
Editor’s Note: After the whole Friday The 13th debacle, why in God’s name would anyone with a grain of sense want to open a summer camp? Were they ever profitable? Just asking.
There’s a junk drawer of subplots spilling all over the place, and what starts out as Cat & Mouse with a monster in the woods, evolves into a revenge plot against the arrogant and faithless Baumgarner.
By no means is Animal Among Us compelling drama, but director John Woodruff and writer Jonathan Murphy pull a few rudimentary surprises out of an old, battered hat.
Their neatest cinematic trick is enlisting the talents of Christine Donlon as a sex-pot forest ranger, who seems to have wandered in from a steamy Cinemax thriller.
Donlon’s libidinous, unhinged performance works as an effective snare to the unaware, hopeful of bonus porn tableaux. (Cue saxophones)
And so the time passes.
Indeed, there is such a palpable sensation of delayed sexy time throughout, that the existence of a spicy director’s cut would surprise absolutely no one of this Earth.
With barely any gore and no actual nudity in the offing, Animal Among Us plays out like community theater Campground Gothic, as an evil, but determined family hangs on against all odds to preserve their vanishing way of life.
To be grudgingly honest, there is a smidgen of entertainment to be derived from witnessing this unstable combination of ludicrous script, wooden acting, and Craft Night special effects.
Keep your expectations as low as the budget and you’ll be fine.