Director – Madeline Deering
Starring – Jennifer Louise, Joseph Russio, Svetlana Kotov, Ian Ray Adam, Keith Monahan and Andy Stuchell
Release Date – 2020
Rating – 3.5/5
Tagline – “Shot on video! Released in Smell-O-Vision”
Sometime last year I saw posts from Madeline Deering about her upcoming horror comedy Spirit Animal. The faux commercial for Dingo Pizza summed up local access commercials from the mid-90s perfectly which only fueled my interest in the film. Over time I learned that Deering was crafting a S.O.V. throwback for fans of the weird side of cinema. I’ve been very vocal about my need for this movie. So much so that I’m sure Deering was sick of me asking to see it. Regardless, I want to thank her for sending a copy of the film my for review!
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows a group of twenty-somethings as they venture out into the woods to drink and party. What they don’t know is that a crazed man, who harnesses the power of his different spirit animals, to kill them all one by one to give the world back to the planet. **Spoiler Alert**
Spirit Animal is one of those movies you know you will enjoy. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and knows how to make the viewer laugh with it rather than at it. Fans of Troma know exactly what I mean. The film was able to bring some laughs, 90s S.O.V. quality effects, and a story that you will not expect. In fact, I would recommend this any day of the week over most of the real S.O.V. classics.
The acting in this one is far from perfect but works. They want to give the viewer something fun and entertaining, which they do, but their inexperience does shine through at times. The cast does a great job at capturing that 90s cheese that makes S.O.V. so laughably fun. Unlike the original counterparts, this cast is willingly going for the cheese while most of the original S.O.V. horror flicks were unintentionally funny. I really like the characters we get and hearing the Genuine Nerd, Toby Radloff voice a tree made the film for me.
The story for this one is what you get when you get a fan of S.O.V. horror with an obsession of no budget indie horror. We get a slasher that would be at home during the original S.O.V. era but we get little additions here and there that make this something only Madeline Deering could conjure up. The only thing that stopped me from absolutely loving this one was the dialogue heavy scenes. Not because of the acting, because the cast did what they intended to do, but because it slowed the outrageous story down. I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next. The changing of the killer’s masks was fun for me and the environmental aspect of the film almost felt like it was making fun of environmentalists and films that try to prove a point.
Finally, if you have ever seen an original S.O.V. you know what to expect when it comes to the kill scenes. They are often bloody but the practical effects are always far from perfect. Luckily, that only added to the humor that this film establishes. Overall, Spirit Animal is not for everyone. If you take to the serious side of the genre then this film isn’t for you and I highly doubt I like you. However, if you like to have fun and enjoy yourself then I highly suggest tossing this one in. Toss it in, throw down a few beers, and have some fun. Keep ’em coming, Maddie!