Feral – USA, 2017 – reviews

Feral is a 2017 American horror feature film directed by Mark H. Young (Tooth and Nail; Southern Gothic) from a screenplay co-written with Adam Frazier. The movie stars Scout Taylor-Compton, Olivia Luccardi and Lew Temple.

Plot:

A wild animal attacks six medical students on a weekend hike in the woods. One by one, they become infected with a “feral disease”, turning them into rabid, bloodthirsty creatures, and the vacation becomes a nightmare as they fight to survive each other…

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Background:

Mark H. Young has been making independent film for over ten years. “I write and direct my own stories, and am very genre agnostic. I love drama, horror, action and thrillers equally, as long as the story and characters are rich and compelling. My work is frequently described as ‘art house meets slaughterhouse’, and sometimes the genre lines are blurred. A drama becomes horror, or vise versa. That’s where the film is most interesting to me.”

Young met producer John Landolfi, who was looking to make an independent horror film. Young had just finished Wicked Blood, starring Sean Bean and Abigail Breslin, and was looking for something unusual. He was intrigued by the idea of taking a trite storyline and trying to breathe new life into it.

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“I don’t think there’s a more hackneyed concept than kids camping in the woods. But for me, that’s a great challenge, to come up with something fresh and new in a stale milieu.” He started by conceiving a new subgenre of horror: a creature that is neither zombie, werewolf, or vampire, but has some of the traits of them all.

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But beyond the horror trappings, his primary focus was the characters. “If the audience doesn’t care about the characters, their fate is meaningless. My goal was to create real, flesh and blood people that the viewer would relate to and empathize with.”

Viewers may also be surprised to find that the protagonists in Feral are female, not male. Many horror films utilize the “Final Girl”, where the the last character left alive must confront the killer. “I love strong female characters, so the notion of several smart girls desperately trying to survive in the woods was very appealing to me.”

Reviews:

“Obviously, this is not the first movie to feature a creepy cabin in the woods or a virus that turns people into bloodthirsty fiends. Even so, it’s well-acted and a solid example of how to build tension by first creating characters the audience can get invested in. Feral is a fine addition to the recent string of well-crafted, ambitious indie horror flicks.” Mike McGranaghan, The Aisle Seat

“While there are some moments where Feral lags, overall, it is an enjoyable ride that never feels cheese-tastic or ridiculous, much in thanks to its talented cast and crew. The score here is well-done, the acting is solid if not impressive, and the care and detail that went into drafting the creature portion of the feature is obvious.” Jeannie Blue, Cryptic Rock

“For better or worse, Feral can be mapped within minutes as to the horrors that will certainly unfold […] Mark Young’s paint-by-numbers creature epidemic is accessible in its breezy assertion of horror beginnings, but may leave more advance genre fans scratching an itch for something more involved.” Matt Donato, Flickering Myth

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“The comparison to zombies is easy in Feral, since people die and then return as something else. And now that something else wants to kill you. Very much in the same aggressive way that we witnessed in 28 Days Later. Oh, and for the record, this is meant only as a compliment. The one thing I really felt Feral needed to improve on was the pace.” Karina Adelgaard, Heaven of Horror

“The only thing that elevates Feral above the kind of standard virus / zombie narrative meets cabin-in-the-woods narrative is that the main couple—and the “final girl”—are lesbians. The feral virus, moreover, the origins of which remain obscure, foments in the traditional heterosexual nuclear family—as Talbot recounts just over halfway through the film.” Dawn Keetley, Horror Homeroom

“While there are better horror films out there, Feral feels content with its predictable story and slick visuals. Competently shot and aesthetically pleasing throughout, Feral is certainly a good looking horror film but its lack of originality ultimately holds it back from being the memorable cult classic it could have become.” Greg Wheeler, The Review Geek

“Director Young shoots his unimaginative opus with an eye of getting all the value of the gore makeup department’s work on screen. In this respect, he does a bang-up job. As for everything else, well, this movie does answer the question “What if Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever had zero sense of humor?” very satisfactorily.” Glenn Kenny, RogerEbert.com

Main cast:

  • Scout Taylor-Compton – Penance Lane; Ghost House; Halloween II
  • Olivia Luccardi – It Follows; Bleeding
  • Lew Temple – Stingy Jack; 31; Zombex
  • Renee Olstead
  • Brock Kelly
  • Landry Allbright
  • George Finn
  • Samantha Gangal

Filming locations:

Hollywood, Los Angeles, California

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