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Review: John Woodruff’s “Animal Among Us”

A little bit American Horror Story: 1984/The Haunting of Hill House, a little bit Bad Moon, Animal Among Us is a recent VOD and DVD release from Uncork’d Entertainment. It’s easy for genre fans to miss new releases because the market is so over-saturated, but this film delivers a lot of elements that will be delectable to old-school viewers who enjoyed films like Silver Bullet and Creature from Black Lake. I mention both werewolf and Bigfoot movies because I’m still not entirely sure who the culprit is in this title. Written and produced by Jonathan Murphy, Animal Among Us finds Roland Baumgarner, a college professor and acclaimed nonfiction writer who previously chronicled a brutal double-murder at a now-abandoned campground. When he’s informed that the camp is re-opening to the public, he returns to the property in search of inspiration and other answers. What he finds, instead, is violent incidents and mysterious attacks that lead them to believe the original killer is still at large. Directed and produced by John Woodruff, Animal Among Us stars Christian Oliver (House of Good and Evil), Larisa Oleynik (“Mad Men”), Don Frye, Christine Donlon, Jonathan Murphy, Erin Daniels, Heather Tom, Jasmine Dustin and Whitney Davis.

A collaboration between Mr. Lion Productions and Hollow Tree Productions, Animal Among Us gives one last romp in the realm of creature features before we head into 2020. What I liked the most about this title is how it’s a completely modern movie that built its story around traditional storytelling elements. It’s low on the body count scale – Hell, nothing gnarly even really happens until the 45 minute mark – but I don’t think it was ever produced to be over the top. The story thrives and survives on mystery, suspense and a handful of twists that take the viewer on a journey instead of just dropping the story right in their lap. The story is so hearty, in fact, that I was able to spot a number of themes and emotional embodiment that gave the plot an extra punch. Desperation, snakes in the grass, and how internal struggles directly effect our decision making process are all at play here. I mean, why would anyone leave their loving, pregnant wife at home to walk around the woods with strangers at the scene of an unsolved double-murder. More importantly, why would our lead character stay on the property when he discovers that the carnage is happening again? Animal Among Us is a slower but deeper narrative that horror fans aren’t quite used to – and that’s exactly why I’d recommend it.

Animal Among Us sees cinematography by Anthony Gutierrez and editing by Will Gong. I have no gripes what-so-ever with how this movie was produced during principal photography and post production editing. I also have no complaints about the cast. They did a wonderful job, too. Really, my only complaint is that the creature doesn’t have a direct definition and there needed to be a little more horror in the first half of the movie. And while I can champion this film for doing something more interpretive with the script, I don’t know if it’s worth more than the price of a VOD stream. It’s a one and done kind of experience. Animal Among Us is a well-polished and mysterious walk in the woods, but it never quite delivered the goods to scare the audience; something that’s imperative within this genre. Dramatic? Certainly! Suspenseful? Definitely! Old-school? Yes, absolutely. But wild and unnerving? Not so much. Animal Among Us is best geared towards horror fans who enjoy good story progression over blood splatters, and best accepted by thrill seekers and indie cinema supporters. It’s nor perfect, but when it’s on its clawed, quick-paced stride, it hits the nail on the head.

Final Score: 7 out of 10.

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)