Looking for the next big story for their news network, Tim, Steven, and Aviva are sent to Burundi to track down a giant, man-eating crocodile named Gustave. But Gustave isn’t the only thing they need to worry about as the area is terrorized by a local warlord nicknamed Little Gustave. Will they be able to catch the croc before it’s too late? Find out in… Primeval.
How?! Ace reporter Tim is in some hot water. Not (yet) because of a large killer croc, but because he screwed up a news story using an unreliable source. Uh oh! In order to make it up to his boss he is sent on a sensationalist story about a killer crocodile named Gustave in Burundi with hack (or is she?) reporter Aviva and his cameraman Steven. The place is a literal war zone, so they are immediately in danger from a local warlord nicknamed Little Gustave. Add a cranky local guide and an egotistical crocodile expert determined to catch, not kill, Gustave and you got a recipe for a horror film… you know… if a big crocodile who just wants to eat and be an animal is your type of monster. After their first attempt at capture goes awry and Steven catches Little Gustave’s minions killing a local priest on camera things quickly fall apart and they are trapped in the wilds with only Gustave for company. They start to be picked off one-by-one by Gustave only for things to get even worse when Little Gustave’s men show up to finish the job. In the chaos Steven is killed by Gustave and Tim and Aviva are able to just barely get away only to fall into the hands of Little Gustave himself. Meaning to destroy the evidence of his criminal activity, he forces Tim to take him into the swamp. Tim uses this to his advantage in order to bring Little Gustave and Gustave together, much to the detriment of Little Gustave. Tim and Aviva run off and are just able to escape with their lives from the clutches of Gustave. Flying back to America they are all happy and probably smooch or something. THE END.
Why?! Fame and fortune, kinda. Aviva wants to legitimize herself in the world of journalism and uses her connection to Tim’s boss to get this crocodile story off the ground. Tim on the other hand just had a story go awry and needs to get back in his boss’ good graces. Thus is born the super team of Tim and Aviva, animal hunting journalists extraordinaire. How didn’t this spawn a franchise? The crocodile on the other hand is just a giant animal and is hungry.
Who?! Every once in a while I realize that there is a new category we should probably be looking out for in this part. That’s because none other than Kent Shocknek appears in this film as a news anchor. He is best known as… well a newscaster who parlayed his popularity into a long career in film and TV. We’ve actually already seen him in such films as First Daughter, Envy, and xXx: State of the Union. Most often he appears as a newscaster, but other times as a “contentious reporter.” Oooo, feisty.
What?! The things that go on sale from film is sometimes bizarrely wonderful. In this case you can find a closed auction for the prop corpse of Orlando Jones. I mean, I guess I can understand why the studio decided they could let that prize go, but I can’t really understand why anyone would buy it. Maybe for a bachelor party or something where you get to go around town toting Orlando Jones for funsies. But afterwards that’s going in a trash can.
Where?! The true prize of this film is the Burundi setting. It’s so in your face that you could argue that this is more of a Burundi film than a crocodile film. I thought for sure we’d be uneasily sitting here asking ourselves whether mentioning Burundi once is enough to be sure the film takes place there. Nope. This is very very very very very very much set in Burundi. A. When?! I couldn’t catch a specific time for this film, but it is interesting that it seems to be a period piece. At the end of the film they talk about a 2005 Burundi Civil War cease fire in 2005 as if it took place after the events of the film, which was released in 2007. This seems confirmed by Variety which also concluded that “Since action is set in pre-2005 Burundi, violence is still rife between warlords and anyone who gets in their way.” Weird. D+.
When?! I couldn’t catch a specific time for this film, but it is interesting that it seems to be a period piece. At the end of the film they talk about a 2005 Burundi Civil War cease fire in 2005 as if it took place after the events of the film, which was released in 2007. This seems confirmed by Variety which also concluded that “Since action is set in pre-2005 Burundi, violence is still rife between warlords and anyone who gets in their way.” Weird. D+.
Meh… like, really. Meh. Not scary to a degree that makes you wonder whether they were even aware they were making a horror film. On the edge of dropping over into “Drama about a civil war in Burundi that also happens to feature a crocodile” territory, they seem even less interested in the crocodile that I was. It got to the point where in the end of the film, presumably where I was supposed to be rooting for our heroes to escape with their lives, I was mostly thinking that it was kinda lame that these randos walked into Burundi and started messing with this crocodile. The only other thing to say is that this is a good reminder why Dominic Purcell mostly spends his time promoting possible spin-offs and new seasons for the greatest thing that ever happened to him: Prison Break. He was… not good. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! Like what if we made Jaws, but instead of a shark it is a crocodile whose CGI is so bad we can only really show it sporadically at night … that’s like the same thing as Jaws right? Let’s get into it!
P’s View on the Preview – Obviously I was delighted at how Burundi this film was in the preview. Always fun seeing a strong setting. Otherwise there were two defining features of the preview. First, that the film is basically just television actor galore, which is a good sign for it being ultra cheesy. And second, the ad campaign surrounding this seems nuts. It is hard to tell how much they pushed the “serial killer” angle, but it apparently was confusing enough that The Numbers genuinely defines this film as a serial killer film … it is not. What were my expectations? I figured it was going to be just a bad creature feature. Trying to play the Jaws angle for a not very impressive ultimate reveal, as bad creature features are wont to do. And I figured the main actors were going to be terrible because … I mean they are the stars of The Net 2.0 and Prison Break so …
The Good – I guess one could say the political nature of the film is a bit admirable? Like it is trying to do something at least, and I want to give it credit for that. I enjoy how directly they address the creature in the film. They don’t beat around the bush. They go to the creatures stomping grounds, set up a trap, and then the creature kind of hunts them down as they pretty effectively try to escape. No cheesy ultra-intelligent magic creature nonsense, it ends up being just mostly unfortunate that our heroes keep getting corralled back into the crocodile’s area, which is a nice change of pace.
The Bad – This actually might be the worst creature feature I’ve ever seen. A lot of it I can forgive, like the acting and some of the writing seems like an unfortunate side effect of the budget. But the political A-story (because it is just that, the main story of the film) is just gross enough to beg the question: why am I hearing about the Burundi genocide during what is basically just Lake Placid in Africa? It boggles the mind. Combine that with a bad CGI crocodile who actually doesn’t kill a good number of people in the film (I think he kills seven total, whereas I think five people are killed by other humans), and it makes me wonder whether the producers were looking for a political film or a creature feature. I can’t think of another creature feature I enjoyed watching less, so that at the very least is a thing.
The BMT – I don’t think this has much legs beyond being mentioned in connection to other creature features, but as usual … it is a bomb Burundi film obviously. It is almost guaranteed that this will remain our one and only bad Burundi film for all of time, so there we go. Did it meet my expectations? No, a bad creature feature can still be fun, especially if the creature is a practical effects nightmare that looks like a puppet and the director insists on showing too much of it. This though, is just a movie about African politics dressed up as a creature feature, and it makes the whole affair unpleasant.
Roast-radamus – Who What Where When Why How – I wish I could give an award for Best Buds in the World for Dominic Purcell and Orlando Jones, but that isn’t a category. I looooooved the Range Rover Product Placement (What?) where a character just shouts “It can’t be stuck! It’s a Range Rover!”. Obviously a fantastic Setting as a Character (Where?) for Burundi which offered both a wildlife and political backdrop to the affairs. Can you call the crocodile a MacGuffin (Why?) … I’m going to allow it, fight me in real life if you disagree. Just an okay Worst Twist (How?) for the reveal that their guide from the beginning of the movie is, in fact, Little Gustave. Pretty dumb. I don’t think it is entertaining enough to get any superlatives.
StreetCreditReport.com – Let’s see. It doesn’t get mentioned in any 2007 lists, not even for worst horror or among numerous honorable mentions (admittedly, 2007 was a murderer’s row for bad movies with such things as The Number 23 featuring shockingly low on many lists). And it doesn’t get mentioned on many worst creature feature lists which are, naturally, dominated by the B-horror of the 50s. But it does feature 8th on this Worst Giant Animal horror list! Honestly, that is about it, and the small review there is the issue: it is barely a creature feature! It is mostly like Blood Diamond than anything else.
You Just Got Schooled – Naturally when watching one of the worst creature features I’ve ever seen, it made me think of all of the great creature features I hadn’t seen. So what better time to check out Piranha from 1978. One of the copy cat features that come out after 1975 in the wake of Jaws, it uses some of the same type of technology (lots of practical puppets with not-very-good underwater camera work), and comes across as a whole lot cheesier (to the point of feeling intentionally comedic). Overall I liked the film, even though it wasn’t very scary. And that is mostly due to the two leads in the film Bradford Dillman and Heather Menzies who worked well together as a drunk and a skiptracer who kind of accidentally release the piranhas into a river. Some nice vistas, and definitely a good pair with Jaws to give you an idea of the origins of modern creature features. While Jaws is the attack of Nature against man, Piranha is the man-made abominations punishing human arrogance (like Godzilla originally), and so it kind of shows the two paths creature features tend to take. Primeval and Anaconda go the Jaws route, for example, whereas Bats is the Piranha vein. B, a little old-fashioned, feels aged, but good nonetheless.