natural horror

Bunny the Killer Thing

Foreign horrors often benefit from cultural unfamiliarity. Bunny the Killer Thing (2015) is one such film. Not that it’s unwatchable by any means, but it carries with it a kind of societal advantage of not being set on these shores, upping the interest level that might not otherwise have been there.

A raunchy Finnish horror/comedy (with English and Finnish breezily interspersed), Bunny the Killer Things brings the fun + gore, while suffering from laughs lost in translation. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t an interesting viewing exercise, if only to get a better understanding of Finnish culture — one that’s more holistic than you might glean from watching an NHL game.

Tuomas, a pant-pissing hipster whose face is bisected by a very punchable mustache, has a rich uncle who’s offered him use of his fancy cabin in the woods. Yes, this is a cabin in the woods movie, replete with the trappings of Finnish culture (it’s got saunas, and clear spirits are the go-to beverage choice).

En route to their wintry getaway, Tuomas and friends come across a car that’s broken down, driven by three, somewhat seedy Brits…however it’s not one of THOSE kinds of movies.

Back in town, a mad scientist has injected an unwilling patient with a serum, and he’s busted loose from his confines possessing….not er, superhuman strength but large furry rabbit physicality (while retaining some parts of his human anatomy intact, for some, shall we say “interesting” POV shots).

This hare/humanoid thing escapes into the dark woods, then goes after the Finns, as well as their newfound British compatriots, and they have to band together to tackle the sicko bunny.

This sounds like a pretty straight-up creature feature, but this is bawdy stuff. And even if this is Nordic, the tone is really all over the map.

The leads are dynamite though, particularly Jari Manninen as Mise, an N-bomb dropping bigot who soon becomes fast drinking friends with Nigerian-Brit Tim (Orwi Manny Ameh).  Their relationship is sweetly unexpected. The female leads are great too, including Veera W. Vilo as the conniving Nina, and her unrequited love interest Sara (Enni Ojutkangas).

Park your brain in neutral and go with it.

*** (out of 5)

[For those who are interested, on Episode 38 of the Really Awful Movies Podcast, we chat about the killer bunny feature, Night of the Lepus]

Primeval

primeval_movieHotel Rwanda? No, it’s Anaconda!
Hotel, Rwanda? No, it’s Anaconda!

Fine, so the SF Gate pointed out Primeval bears superficial resemblance to both those films, but they didn’t make their lede a rhyming chant.

The year 2007 was a banner one for killer croc movies, as the Aussie creature feature Rogue was released that very year as well. That one wasn’t half-bad, but then again, it wasn’t half-good either…but it was a reasonable time-waster and looked decent enough, kinda like throwing on a blazer over jeans to dine out somewhere fancy. And it followed the cardinal rule of killer critter movies: if you don’t have much $$$, for the love of all things holy, don’t show much of the creature.

Primeval was “inspired by the true story of the most bloodthirsty crocodile ever.” (don’t you love it when billion-year old instincts are anthropomorphized? Maybe he’s not really bloodthirsty, but just hungry? After all, it’s a 25-foot apex predator…you try filling that gut to satiation)

However don’t let that poster tag line throw you. This is a movie with aspirations.

Primeval is set against the backdrop of the Hutu and the Tutsi ethnic strife that’s more commonly associated with neighboring Rwanda, but which caused the death of one-third of a million people in this small East African nation of Burundi.

A New York news organization, sends a TV journalist (Tim, Dominic Purcell) to the region to report on the yes, real-life attacks by one Gustave, a septuagenarian croc with a body count that’d shame Jason Voorhees (For a little context, please see the ominously-voiced documentary Gustave – The Giant Crocodile of Burundi). Along for the ride, a reporter, Aviva, best-known for doing cat expose stories. But hey, we’re fans of Italian cannibal films and the motivations those characters have for traipsing around the bush in the middle of nowhere, are far more nebulous. And if NY news outlets have such deep pockets that TWO journalists are required for this mission, in the height of the decade that nearly sunk the journalism profession, who are we to question the dedication to their craft?

primeval_movie_still

The crew’s cameraman is Steve (Orlando Jones) and Aviva (Brooke Langton) runs around with her tummy showing, demonstrating the nearly hard-and-fast rule that anyone named Brooke is good-looking. The jury is still out re: “good-acting.”

A group of surly hunters (one of whom is played by Jürgen Prochnow of the indelible Das Boot) try to bait the ‘gate, er, croc, with a dead goat hanging in a giant cage. But after dining on live humans, it hardly seems fair that Gustave would have to lower his standards to the Hamburger Helper of predation, a smelly, decaying ruminant.

The crew has to deal with something nearly as sinister as giant, hungry, scaly, bullet-ridden Gustave roaming Lake Tanganyika. And that’s Little Gustave, a sadistic warlord.

At the end of the day, this is tepid stuff but hey…this might be the best Burundi-set feature this reviewer’s ever seen.

**1/2 (out of 5)