TFF2014: Indigenous

          Alastair Orr’s Indigenous is not a ground breaking film.  It could easily be described as The Ruins meets The Descent meets The Blair Witch Project.  It’s got familiar elements: careless vacationing white kids, the Guy Who Warns Them Not to Go Into the Woods, girls who freak out about noises and guys who ignore them because they’re horny, monsters—in this case the legendary Chupacabra, or “Mexican goat suckers”-- glimpsed tantalizingly in grainy video footage.  The results are predictable.  But the movie is still a lot of fun.  And then there are the boys.

            Let’s talk about the boys.  They are really, really hot.  Zachary Soetenga is Scott, the sincere blonde who just wants to have a good time with his girlfriend (Sofia Pernas).  Pierson Fode is the group’s Stifler, an arrogant jack-ass looking to get lucky with comely local Laura Penuela… but he’s, you know, Not Such a Bad Guy.  Jamie Anderson is the Brit who wouldn’t have to push girlfriend Lindsey McKeon away, if only he’d step out of himself and pay a little more attention to her.  They all surf.  They all have six packs.  They all have a general allergy to wearing shirts.  Soetenga even gets a shower scene.  Either horror filmmakers are realizing that gay men love horror, or that women do, or both, but this movie’s man candy factor is through the roof.  And it’s infinitely more watchable than Dante’s Cove or The Lair or whatever drivel David Decoteau’s directed this week.  So yay that.

(I can't with these boys.  I just can't.)

           In terms of horror, the movie doesn’t live up to the initial promise of that shaky footage, but the monsters are used sparingly and effectively, and one supremely creepy shot in a cave made me forgive the inherent dumbness of wandering inside a cave looking for a friend last seen being dragged off by a monster.  Seriously, this shot is like the moment in Halloween when Michael Myers’ visage gradually comes into focus over Jamie Lee’s shoulder—it was really friggin’ cool.  The conflicts and characters are sketched out thinly but competently, and the cast is likable enough to elicit our concern.  Plus these boys are so, so pretty.

            Social media plays a major role in the plot: Pernas’ explanation of her beau’s facial recognition app is proof that a.) this will be important later and b.) Orr was definitely paying attention the day the screenwriting professor talked about foreshadowing.    Cell phone service is predictably spotty in the jungles of Panama, but Soetenga is somehow able to upload a video plea for help to the interwebs (suspension of disbelief, people) and it goes viral in an unintentionally hilarious montage of gawking viewers, the search terms “I c dead people,” and a cursor poised over Facebook’s “Dislike” button.  The conceit goes perhaps a bit too far in grounding the plot in today’s social media reality, but it’s relatively intelligent and adds a twist to the otherwise familiar proceedings.  Plus, these boys are so, so pretty.

            Indigenous is an entertaining, not overly dumb creature feature that makes great use of gorgeous locations.  It’s a nifty take on the legendary Chupacabra that is nicely hardcore with the blood and guts.  Plus… these boys are so, so pretty.  So pretty.

Indigenous screens as part of the Tribeca Film Festival Friday, April 25 at 11:30pm at the AMC Loews Village 7.

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on April 24, 2014