Mladen and Del review ‘Unnatural’

Image courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox.

“Unnatural” Starring James Remar as Martin, Sherilyn Fenn (one of Mladen’s favorite B-movie actors) as Hanna, Ron Carlson as Brooking, Ivana Korab as Ella, Q’orianka Kilcher as Lily, Allegra Carpenter as Quincy, Gregory Cruz as Nate, Graham Greene as Buffalo, and others. Directed by Hank Braxtan. 1 hour, 29 minutes. Rated R. Streaming on Amazon Prime.

Plot summary: A mutant beast escapes from a secret corporate laboratory in Alaska to hunt humans. A stranded group comprising Alaskans and a handful white bourgie from the lower 48 fight to survive the rampaging Ursus maritimus and Canis lupus DNA‑mixed hyper predator.

Does this review contain spoilers: A few, yes.

Mladen’s take

The guttural groan you hear right now is not from the bio-fabricated monster in 2015’s “Unnatural.”

It’s my beloved Del hating the hell out of the film, which I picked to review.

“Unnatural” is stylish B schlock in that it has pretty good production value and not-altogether shitty acting. The schlock part is its in-your-face, never subtle exploitation of corporate greed, corporate immorality, and corporate PR strategies that mimic what Big Tobacco, Big Agriculture, Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Tech, and little Trump and his looney band of misfits have done and continue doing – gaslighting dumb fucks vulnerable to gaslighting – to tell its story.  Oh, the bad person wins in the end, her life saved by a good person. Love it.

My affection for “Unnatural” stems from its “American Werewolf in London” vibe. The creature featured in “Unnatural” is a real-world practical effect. It’s big. It’s white. It’s bulky sleek. And, it makes quick-hit appearances, barring a damn cool panoramic shot of the animal casually approaching an injured human across a patch of open snow after it emerges from the woods.

I confess. That scene alone provoked the anti-Del grade I give the film. It reminded me of the greatest moment in AWiL (aside from seeing Jenny Agutter nude). You remember it. The werewolf is loose. Its haunt includes the U.K. subway where a lone dude gets off the train, hears a growl, and starts running. He makes it about halfway up the stairs but stumbles. He looks down the stairwell and the camera flashes to a wide shot of the werewolf. The aberration of nature is casually approaching the stairs while its next victim stares in immobilized horror at the mangy mass of fur, teeth, and ’tude heading for his throat.

“Unnatural” doesn’t consider itself a farce as do so many low-budget films that rip off better movies. Yes, it’s melodramatic and in-your-face about everything from the culture clash between backwoods folks and urban sophisticates to the danger of manipulating genes to save (allegedly) wildlife from global warming. Sure, there’s some corny dialogue, particularly our hero’s dying hope that Mankind, here incarnate as Clobirch Corporation, leaves natural nature untouched. And, yes, the humans are always going out by themselves to search for someone or chase the beast. But, the way Martin dispatches the wolf bear, or is it bear wolf, is pretty neat. Also neat is the way some of the folk die as the mendacious animal hunts them for the shear joy of killing something.

I can’t recall the soundtrack. That means it’s unremarkable. The costumes are fine and the way the soon-to-be-victims interact with each other and the situation they’re facing is good enough.

“Unnatural” is fine as horror film entertainment. There are a couple of jump-from-your-seat moments, the women are attractive, and the animal nicely done considering it cost $20.05 to make. See the movie and post a comment below if you agree with me and disagree with Del. You’re allowed to call him names but be nice to me because my feelings get hurt easily.

Mladen’s grade: A-

Del’s take

Mladen must be out of his ever-lovin’ mind. I can’t believe he gave this crappy movie such a high score.

Within 2 minutes of watching “Unnatural” I knew the bitchy blonde supermodel would end up bear kibble and I was not wrong.

Movies like “Unnatural” have a standard formula, which goes something like this:

1. Obnoxious lowlanders venture into the countryside to shit on their noble savage rural folk cousins and disrespect their beliefs and traditions.

2. MEANWHILE, a secret lab / government facility / hidden pool / abandoned mine shaft gives forth a MONSTER with a ravenous taste for human flesh.

3. Lowlanders go about their lowlander business while ignoring and / or disrespecting the sage advice of the noble savage rural folk.

4. MONSTER starts picking off lowlanders with the occasional noble savage rural folk (just to add variety to its diet).

5. Siege sets in. Plot wrinkle introduced (father “wasn’t there” for kids, husband “wasn’t there” for wife, etc.) and mysteries of secret lab / government facility / hidden pool / abandoned mine shaft are revealed, sometimes pitting noble savage rural folk who knew against those who didn’t, but more often noble savage rural folk against lowlanders.

6. Slaughter ensues. Lots of jiggling breasts.

7. MONSTER is slain. Noble savage rural folk prevail. Everyone relaxes.

8. Hey, wait a minute! MONSTER ISN’T DEAD!

What sets apart “Unnatural” from other B movies is its unique awfulness. Take the acting … please. I wouldn’t call it “method.” More like “methadone.” These actors are about as animated as a box of chalk. It’s not totally their fault – the script barely rises above the level of random words on paper.

Characterization is equally dull-edged. The characters in “Unnatural” are themselves unnatural – caricatures of stereotypes, from the racist and judgmental fashion photographer to the taciturn native guide who speaks only to put forth bromides of local wisdom, which are promptly mocked by the lowlanders.

The story advocates for the natural world, but that preaching is limited to the very beginning and very end, and mostly abandoned in the middle three-quarters, which means its message is inconsistent and not well supported by the action. Instead, it’s put out there as an enabling excuse to give us an hour’s worth of growling and blood spray.

I’ll give the creators of “Unnatural” credit – they filmed the movie on location so we weren’t inflicted with “snow” that looked like spray starch. Nor were they shy about killing people. Don’t become attached to too many of these characters, if such a thing is possible. They won’t be around long.

Look, I’m all for movies that bash large corporations. I think corporate America is an amalgam of soul-less scumbags who are soaking ordinary Americans by way of price-gouging and profiteering. All they care about is money – morality be damned. And like all mindless machines that can do great harm, they must be regulated.

But “Unnatural” isn’t that kind of statement, despite Mladen’s halfhearted attempts to make it so to justify his lust for boobies and blood. It’s just a perfunctory exercise in virtue signaling so we can get on with the business of sexploitation and gore. I thought it was stupid and dull.

You want a good bear-out-of-control movie? Try the Clint Walker classic “Night of the Grizzly,” which will scare the hell out of you, or the 1979 flick “Prophecy,” which does a much better job of defending the natural world and bashing corporate America’s money machines.

“Unnatural” will insult your intelligence.

Del’s grade: D

Mladen Rudman is a former journalist and technical writer. Del Stone Jr. is a former journalist and writer.


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