No Real Danger is a small operation, folks. It’s just me, good ol’ Jason Danger (so far). I started this site because I love horror and I wanted an outlet for my thoughts on films and whatnot. I try to report honestly with an emphasis on the positive aspects of my subjects. And, obviously, there’s an audience for my writing (you lovely people) that is slowly growing as I add to No Real Danger. So, why am I telling you this in the intro to a review for Indigenous? Well, Indigenous came to me as a pre-release screener. I get screeners now and then and I appreciate the hell out of having an opportunity to report on films just as people are deciding if they want to check them out or not. “But, Danger, Indigenous has been out on VOD for a while now.” True. I held my review to let the movie get a few views under its belt and to let people form their own opinions before I wrote about it. It boils down to this: 1. I wasn’t sure what the etiquette was for writing a negative review for a film that was graciously shared with a tiny site like mine for “media” review. Ultimately, I decided that even though I didn’t like it, I didn’t want to do harm to an independent film in its opening weeks. A time when it has the potential to find its audience. If you already spent your hard-earned money on a VOD rental and you blame me for not warning you, I understand. Please address any complaints to your own tear-stained pillow.
Indigenous follows the same formula that we’ve seen many, many times before when it comes to stories of brash Americans visiting a non-white, non-English speaking country. The reprehensible, narcissistic young people are culturally ignorant and/or offensive and they get into trouble. The trouble in this case is in the form of chupacabras – the mythical goat-suckers of (primarily) Latino-American legend. The cultural blunder in this movie is a visit to a forbidden mystical waterfall in the forests of Panama. Of the group that ventures to the site, the first to go missing/get killed are the locals (read: brown-skinned). At that point, the American kids know that “shit just got real”. (that’s not an actual quote, but it easily could have been) The Americans brainlessly run in all directions and get separated from each other. That doesn’t work out so well for them. Because chupacabras.
Let me get the good stuff out of the way first. The creature effects are decent in this film. Though, the chupacabras are reminiscent of the creatures from The Descent. There are some very good scares too. The limited visibility of the forest is made even more terrifying at night in the lights of the characters’ flashlights. We catch glimpses of the monsters just out of range of the lights or briefly in the foreground. Frightening enough. Now, the bad stuff. Everything else. OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much. The dialogue is so tedious and unrealistic that the film feels like it was written by middle schoolers. When I went back to the press materials to read about the film, I found out that the dialogue was largely improvised. I guess that’s why there is a GROWN-ASS MAN character calling another one “needle dick” constantly. And the characters back stories are insipid. They are all on the verge of greatness – an app developer who just finished a desirable big-money social networking app (it’s used as a plot device sporadically), a couple opening a hotly anticipated restaurant, a woman going to veterinary school, etc. Ugh. This is their last
case before they retire party before they all become (super-successful) adults. Oh no! The stakes are so artificially high! We are expected to care more about their survival because of this I suppose, but their personalities prevent that. When the chupacabra showed up, I wanted these people to die.
The Final Cut: Indigenous is a derivative, culturally exploitative creature feature with insufferable characters and less-than-amateur dialogue. The few scares it offers may not be worth the price of admission even for the most dedicated indie horror fans.