Sunday, December 28, 2008

Welcome to the Jungle (2007; John Hensleigh)

Excuse me if I find it a bit hard to swallow that the same man who helped write Armageddon and Jumanji decided his best career move would be to make a horror mockumentary about cannibals. One last thing, yes, this movie really is a mix of two classic mockumentarys you should be thinking of. If you really can't name both of them, shame on you. I will give you a little bit longer to get some guesses before I give it away...


Two young couples (yeah, that's right, can you guess it yet?) head into the jungle to try and find proof of Michael Rockefeller's survival so they can make it rich. Bad happens.

Alright, the break is over. At first, this film comes off as only an updated, milder form of Cannibal Holocaust (Dubbed Mockumentary #1 for you guessing folk). However, once you crack it open and start watching it, you will quickly learn that it uses a very Blair Witch formula for developing the characters and the tension. (Yes, Blair Witch is Mockumentary #2. You can leave your score in the comment section).

However, it feels that Hensleigh got too caught up in trying to develop each part that he forgot to tie them all together. This leads to a very choppy experience where the pacing and atmosphere drastically change from one piece to another. We start with the Blair Witch feel of watching our main kids be silly so we can bond with them and what have you. We then are brought into our kill zone (the wilderness for all three). Tension dwells in the group and fighting occurs, which is supposed to help add to the helplessness of the situation. After the tension and fighting, bad happens.

You see, where the Blair Witch Project set all of these steps up and blended them into one cohesive, believable web, Welcome to the Jungle just leaves out the bridges between. We go from parties directly to walking through the forest. We are then treated to ten or so minutes of nonstop fighting. The traveling and fighting really aren't mixed together at all. After we watch nothing but fighting we are immediately thrown into the bad happening and then the film is over.

I will say, however, that not all in this is bad. All of the characters come off as credible and are acted very well. Also, the #1 part of this film is actually executed almost perfectly. The cannibals are portrayed brilliantly and some of the kills, while very #1, are still very effective. So even despite the film's poor attempt at reaching for #2, the fact that it nailed #1 so perfectly near the end made the questionable beginning surprisingly tolerable and rescued the film from being a failure.

Score: 3/5

Notes: Is that Mikey screaming for help? Or is it Josh...

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