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August 2, 2014

Movie Review: The Jungle (2013)

Directed by Andrew Traucki

Movie Review by Greg Goodsell

Ugly, boring sleeve art designed to look good on a Redbox menu. STRIKE ONE. Turns out that the film at hand was "the last anyone saw of these people,” i.e., yet another found footage fright film. STRIKE TWO. Wait a minute, it's set in Indonesia, and hasn't this reviewer thoroughly enjoyed all the horror and fantasy films emanating from this part of Southeast Asia? Give it a go, then?

Australian conservationist Larry (Rupert Reid) is headed out to the wilds of Indonesia in order to track and preserve the endangered Java leopards. Taking his unseen photographer Ben along, the two Aussies are later accompanied by two natives, the superstitious Adi (Igusti Budianthika) and the stern and taciturn Budi (Agoes Widjaya Soedjarwo).

Deep into the rainforest, the four intrepid adventurers begin to find the partially devoured remains of the leopards … could it be the fearsome forest demon the villagers fear? There's lot and lots and LOTS of shaky, hand-held footage of walking through the jungle. “Wait! What's that peering at us from the darkness?”

The viewer waits for something original to happen – but is treated to a scene-by-scene recap of the original Blair Witch Project (1999). Bummer! At least the Paranormal Activity series include at least a couple original scenes in each installment … In fact, this stinkers so slavishly copies Blair Witch – it concludes with the discovery of a mysterious structure found in the middle of nowhere before everyone gets killed, it's a wonder that the Blair Witch filmmakers didn't sue these people for outright plagiarism! Adding insult to injury is the fact that a horned beastie, appearing on the disc's back cover illustration appears NOWHERE in the finished film, and we realize we've blown 84 minutes of our lives with nothing to show for it! STEE-RIKE THREE! 

Fifteen long years after it came out, The Blair Witch Project has directly influenced every other horror picture that has come out since then. The premise is especially attractive to producers: no money is spent on tripods, it only helps if your cast is made up of nobodies and the premise is just another variation of the “Scooby Doo” cartoon show where everybody gets wasted at the end! Try this: Go to YouTube, type in “Horror movie trailers,” and this writer guarantees you that three-fourths of the recent ones will be found footage films!

I could go on with snide comments and clever asides, but why? NO one will be particularly welcome at this Jungle. Read a book instead!

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