Director – Ian Messenger (Fireside Tales, Friday the 13th: Legacy)
Starring – Don Carlos, Justin Celani (Fireside Tales), and Tim Christie (Fireside Tales, Friday the 13th: Legacy)
Release Date – 2017
Rating – 3/5
A few years back I befriended Marc Schoenbach on Facebook after several filmmaker friends shared posters he had done for their films. His work is untouched and easily some of the best posters I have seen. When I first saw his work I got the impression he drew inspiration from the golden age of VHS and the tapes I would rent at my local ma and pa video stores. I recently discovered I was wrong.
This summer I started collecting 80s horror paperbacks and realized that he drew inspiration from these classic paperbacks. This made me love his work even more. As awesome as his work is the films he sometimes contributes artwork for is not always as good. This has turned into a game. I call it the Sadist quality game.
Not long ago director Shawn Burkett (my boo) got me in contact with Tim Fattig who I believe produced Monkey Farm and Fireside Tales. Tim was kind enough to send both films over to review. Monkey Farm boasts one of my favorite Sadist Art designs and would be another turn in the Sadist quality game! Thanks Tim for sending this one my way.
**Spoiler Alert**The film follows a group of documentary filmmakers who are making a film on experimentation on animals. After several interviews they are made the suggestion to check out a place called the Monkey Farm that was shut down due to pressure from the public. The place is conveniently close so they venture out to it. While there they uncover paperwork on a chimp supposedly over 6 feet tall that was captured with no paperwork of its death or release. They leave and enlist the help of a skunk ape hunter to explore the area more in hopes of finding the chimp but what they find is something far worse than a large primate.**Spoiler Alert**
I tossed this one in knowing it was a found footage flick and how I usually react to them. I mostly hate found footage flicks for their annoying characters and extremely awkward dialogue. After 40 minutes I was ready to flick the switch and write a bad review for this one. I forced myself through the remainder of the film and actually enjoyed it once the ending took hold.
The acting in this one wasn’t that entertaining. I try to keep my reviews positive especially when I review an indie no budget flick but this one was rough at times to watch but I don’t want to blame the cast. The film tries to capture that “real” look that so many found footage films strive for. Their natural conversations and off topic dialogue may be realistic but makes for a boring watch. The cast’s small talk doesn’t feel genuine or authentic which makes several of the scenes feel forced.
The story for this one is a great idea on paper and would have been a phenomenal short but was not that effective after it was stretched to feature length. The first 40 or so minutes of the film is rough to sit through. The dialogue is painful and the scenes are bland. However, once they enter the old facility with the skunk ape hunter the film takes a different turn. The momentum picks up and the horror element shines. The ending saves the film. I also liked the skunk ape House of 1000 Corpses nod. Was unexpected but fit nicely.
Finally, the film has a great looking creature that is very underutilized. I loved the way the chimp looks and acted. Sadly, the film isn’t as bloody as I would have liked. The carnage takes place off camera with the viewer just getting a glimpse of the red stuff. The effects are minimal with the exception of the chimp mask which was fantastic.
Overall, Monkey Farm has a lot of potential but struggles with the pacing and length. If the beginning is heavily edited this would make a fantastic short but as a feature film it is a bit of a chore to finish. However, if you stick with it you will surely enjoy yourself. Check it out.