Friday, September 02, 2016

Vamp or Not? Prey

Originally released as Indigenous, this 2014 film was directed by Alastair Orr and came onto my radar due to one word… Chupacabra.

Now the chupacabra is one that almost always warrant a ‘Vamp or Not?’ – the infamous goat-sucker doesn’t always stick to sucking the blood of goats (or humans) and is often portrayed as a standard beast. So what about this film?

It starts with what appears to be found footage (it isn’t quite that) of American tourist Scott Williams (Zachary Soetenga) saying that he was holidaying in Panama, he and his friends have gone too far into the jungle and something is chasing them. He starts mentioning the fates of two friends when there is a screech and a scream. The video ends.

a last hoorah
The film then jumps back two days. Scott and his girlfriend Steph (Lindsey McKeon) are going to Panama to meet their friends Trevor (Pierson Fode), Elena (Sofia Pernas) and Charlie (Jamie Anderson). Steph has been accepted into Vet school and Elena and Charlie have opened a restaurant and so this is their last hoorah before real life kicks in. Scott has created an app that is in beta mode that uploads video to social media tagging friends through facial recognition.

Scott and Steph
Whilst they are out having a good time Trevor meets local girl Carmen (Laura Penuela) and through her they all meet local bloke Julio (Juanxo Villaverde). Scott reads about the Darién Gap and sees a video supposedly of tourists attacked by something there. Julio tells them that there is a waterfall in that area that they used to go to as kids but no-one goes there now. The region is supposedly haunted by the chupacabra (Mark Steger, I am Legend) – and he describes it as an evil spirit trapped in a half human and half monster body.

Scott gets in to the idea of going there and Carmen offers to take them – despite promising Julio that she won’t. They go and do get to the waterfall. Julio follows but is stalked and legs it from the jungle, heading back to contact his uncle (who is in the local police). The friends at the waterfall are soon attacked, night falls and they are separated. Their fates are not quite sealed as Scott’s app releases their plight to the world (and is the video we saw at the head of the film). So, is this chupacabra Vamp?

big tongue
Well, it is natural we assume – despite the legend of it being some sort of evil spirit, the original title of indigenous suggests a natural creature – if a cryptid. It is bipedal – has a long (cgi) tongue, rows of sharp teeth and is certainly carnivorous – devouring raw flesh from the bone. A news report late in the film does use the word bloodsucker – but this refers to the legend of the cryptid and not necessarily its actual modus operandi.

of genre interest
This one probably falls as being of genre interest – given the association of chupacabra with vampirism. It is a separate species and hunts humans but there is nothing overtly vampire (no supernatural elements are there and little is said that might connect it to vampires within the vague description of folklore in film). How many chupacabra are there is unknown. It could be one hunting all of them or there might be more than one. The DVD cover shows several but that is not replicated on screen.

The imdb page is here.

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