Unnatural is a horror film directed by Hank Braxtan (Chemical Peel and Blood Effects) and was written by Ron Carlsonand Arch Stanton (screenplay). The flick is one of the 8 Films to Die For of 2015.
The concept sounds like a cheesy B-movie, you know, one of those films that just sort-of pops up at the right time. (Anaconda or Piranha) Unnatural is about a photographer and his models relocating to somewhere in Alaska for bikini shots. Right hand to God, I can’t find a better way to word that. They’re seriously in bikinis and posing around in Alaska and the models don’t shiver once, either they’re absolute pros or this isn’t a very realistic film. But, I digress. Anyways, the Photographer Man (whose name is Brooking, I believe: Played by Ron Carlson) is a dick, and models aren’t all the brightest, and it all seems like a very cheesy b-movie, right? Wrong!
The film has one or two occasions of camp, for certain, but other-wise, it’s played with a very, very straight-face. Soon, however, it’s injected with some much-needed charm as James Remar (plays Harry in Dexter) comes on-board. His character basically shows them around the area and Photographer Man spouts off prejudice comments about Native Americans. Thankfully, the Native American aboard the film goes against stereotype by speaking about this big-bad creature that can’t be killed; a genetically altered polar bear. The rest of the film from here on is mostly about survival, and you can assume what happens next. (or watch the film)
The production-value of the film is exceptional, and with a three million dollar budget, it makes for an aesthetically pleasing environment, all in all.
The acting is sound, with some known names, which, besides the names I’ve mentioned, includes: Allegra Carpenter, Sherilyn Fenn, Ray Wise, and Graham Greene.
Sadly though, none of the cast is able to work with the thinly-scripted and simplified narrative about an angry bear trying to kill them. A considerable amount of time is allotted for character-development, when considering the film has a run-time of about 80 minutes (not counting credits), but it doesn’t amount to much. James Remar’s character seems like a nice guy, but do I think he’s a nice guy because the movie, or because I like James Remar? The latter, most likely.
Films like this aren’t too hard make, but are very easy to screw-up. A character-driven approach could work, if you have well-written dialogue and conversation, and have likable characters worth rooting for. In this film, you don’t have anyone like that. The other method is through violence, special-effects, and camp-humor. This film achieves none of these variables. The humor’s vaguely achieved in some instances, but not often, and you don’t even have a good-shot of the bear until the last few minutes of the film, and it’s a hardly satisfying payoff for the film.
This isn’t an ecological film, nor does it pose any criticism about using bears for science-experiments. I only mention this, because I want to establish that this film doesn’t ever really accomplish anything for itself. It isn’t fun, it isn’t intelligent, and it isn’t well-written, it’s a jack of no-trades and is boring as hell. A lot of the time when I look at certain low-budget horror films, I look at them with a grading curve. As long as a film’s entertaining, in the end, that’s all that matters. But, for the life of me, I can find nothing entertaining about this creature feature.