27 February 2015 | idontdodrugs
Strange cross between awesome animal horror and TV movie badness
I am seriously torn between opinions on this one. I'm actually somewhat of a fan of animal horror movies. I still think Jaws is one of the best horror films out there. I even somehow liked the Orca Rip-off. Seriously, the animal horror genre occupies a major part of the most fun B movies ever (strangely, the ones that come to mind are mostly shark focused....Deep Blue Sea, Ghost Shark, Shark Attack 3: Megalodon...). From my childhood I remember being really scared of titles like Tarantula, Kingdom of Spiders, Frogs, Razorback, Cujo and so on. Well, times change and I know just enjoy some dumb fun. And I really don't know if Grizzly actually fits my bill here.
I admit I was predominantly drawn to this movie by its cast - James Marsden, Thomas Jane, Billy Bob Thornton, and Piper Perabo (which I haven't seen for a long time). So my guess was that with such a pretty well known cast, they would have confidence in the movie and some budget associated with it. And again, I am not sure...
So the actors actually do their job pretty well. Their performance is probably one of the reasons why the movie is sometimes quite gripping and tense. The setting is quite nice - foggy gritty cold forest. The plot is pretty much what you expect...and even if you have low expectations it is kind of a lackluster.
I think the biggest gripe I have is with the bear "effects" and associated with it the cinematography and editing. I am quite astonished how they managed to actually make the bear feel real and menacing and at the same time weirdly harmless. Sometimes the bear appears huge and some of the attacks are really grippy. Other times you feel that the bear is just prancing around like a nice little teddy. They used real bear footage for the most part, which is nice, but somehow feels fake at the same time. No idea how they did that. There is quite an amount of gore as well. And some of the attacks were quite hard to watch - although the victims showed some questionable defense behavior. At the same time, there are a lot of cheap off-screen deaths. This is not similar to Jaws, where it's done tastefully and suspenseful - here it just seems very cheap - like in the average low budget TV movie. That transgresses to a general problem here - the editing. A lot of the scenes are like this: Bear growling - people looking in fear - bear standing - people deciding to run away - bear prancing towards them - people actually running away scared of their life (and that quite authentically) - bear catching up with one of them - people shooting at the bear and missing - bear turning around and running towards the shooter - shooter looking dumb and shooting and missing again - bear closing in on shooter - other people shooting and missing - bear turning towards other people...you catch the drift.
There is just not enough real interaction or shots with the bear and people together convincingly to make this movie really good. As mentioned, the effects are good and bad at the same time - CGI was avoided most of time, and when it was used, it was OK. But generally, it has just this extreme cheap TV movie feel. It is also not over the top, which could have saved it. If there is humor in this movie, it is extreme subtle...to the extend that I'm not sure if I noticed it.
So in sum, really, I have no idea what to make of it. I do not recommend it. That's for sure. But I also do not hate it. I somehow do not really care (despite this long review...). And oh yeah, and the ending is really cheap.