Director: Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund
Cast: Hanna Oldenburg, Ralf Beck,Torbjörn Andersson, and Niki Nordenskjöld
Production Company: Stockholm Syndrome Film
Runtime: 82 minutes
Some films are so gritty that they make you want to take a shower after, and some films leave you feeling the need to bathe in paint thinner. Animalistic (2015) ventures into familiar territory, but there is something about filmmaker duo Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund’s harrowing journey of sexual deviancy and bloodshed that is still fresh and engrossing.
In the film, Emma (played by Hanna Oldenburg) is visiting the United States on a business trip. She takes a ride in a taxi driven by the mysterious Shirley (played by Nikki Nordenskjöld), who attacks and drugs her until she is unconscious. When Emma awakens, she discovers she is being held hostage by a lunatic named Jim (played by Ralf Beck), and is forced to experience a night of depravity and psychological torture. That is, until she turns the tables and exacts her bloody revenge.
Many of the film’s greatest strengths are the result of the production team’s careful attention to detail. There’s a discolouration to the overall look, which gives off a sleazy grindhouse-throwback vibe without pursuing obnoxious gimmicks. Jim’s nightmarish torture shack, in which the film is predominantly set, has an organic aesthetic, where the viewer can almost feel the mouldy walls perspiring in the heat of the moment.
The clothing looks genuinely filthy, and the antagonists especially appear as if they have never been introduced to the concept of soap and water. The grimy, bloody mixture of makeup FX under effectively dim lighting will leave some viewers wondering when they last scheduled a tetanus shot. Samir El Alaoui’s score is comprised of discordant soundscapes devoid of melody, which even echo a sense of tension during less suspenseful moments, helping to move the plot forward at a tight pace.
What is arguably the strongest element of the film is one of the most crucial: its cast of high-calibre talent. Not only do Laguna and Wiklund successfully create an immersive filmic world with effective production design, they bring out the most in their cast to create believable characters. Hanna Oldenburg’s portrayal of Emma shows the victim-turned-avenger coming to terms with the reality of the situation, and the brutal vengeance her character ultimately desires. The real star of the show, however, is Ralf Beck as Emma’s main captor, the sadistic degenerate Jim.
Beck is engaging and intimidating as a truly scummy villain, pulling no punches in an effort to bring the on-screen degeneracy to increasingly despicable lows. It helps that Beck gets to spew colourfully raunchy dialogue. There are moments where Beck’s performance makes Jim comparable to past horror movie villains, particularly Wolf Creek’s Mick Taylor (played by John Jarrat).
While Animalistic borrows heavily from the countless other rape-revenge and torture porn films to have come before, it stands out as something unique and engaging. Where it wears its influences on its sleeve, it does so in a way that somehow feels less exploitative than the films Laguna and Wiklund are paying homage to. It is savage and brutal, with an unrelenting sense of danger from the beginning until the end credits reel.
– Luke Meneok, The Nasty Snob
For more information, click the links below…