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The Jungle (2013)

R | | Horror, Thriller | 2013 (Australia)
Big cat conservationist LARRY BLACK and his filmmaker brother BEN travel into the Indonesian jungle to find and document the rare and endangered Javan Leopard. As they travel deeper and ... See full summary »

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Big cat conservationist LARRY BLACK and his filmmaker brother BEN travel into the Indonesian jungle to find and document the rare and endangered Javan Leopard. As they travel deeper and deeper into the jungle they realise they are being stalked by a deadly predator. Written by Dean Toovey

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jungle | See All (1) »

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A new predator is on the hunt

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Horror | Thriller

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Rated R for language | See all certifications »

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2013 (Australia)  »

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"Something is watching us".
21 March 2014 | by (the Mad Hatter's tea party.) – See all my reviews

I thought "Black Water" was excellently pitched eco-horror, while "The Reef" was a modest survival horror. So when it came to "The Jungle", I had some high hopes from Australian film-maker Andrew Traucki. Again very similar in formula to his previous films, but just a different threat. "The Jungle" is a simple story (ala "Blair Witch Project") that takes advantage of the found-footage market. Does it work? Yes and no. It's durable, but unexceptional in that we have been here before.

Animal conversationalist Larry Black along with his brother head to Indonesia to track down and film a rare breed of leopard to get documented evidence of its existence in the jungle. However in the area where they would be searching are rumours of a black magic demon, which Larry considers just local superstitions? But his guides are not so convinced.

I came away liking the taut situation and the overall build-up of it. It had me engaged (be it the characters and motivation behind the trek) and there was a grounded realism, but the pay-off was less than desirable. In what becomes a whirlwind of frustration, sudden camera movement and off-screen action in the last ten minutes. It's jerky in its execution, as the repetitiveness of certain actions started to become wearisome and the jump scenes simply erupted. You are kept pretty much kept in the dark, but that didn't bother me. Although the disappearance of a character in the final few seconds baffled me. It just I didn't feel like the back-end truly captured the suspense and horror of the situation as effectively as the lead up did.

The tag less is more, is used very much here. Only glimpses (glowing eyes), noises (snarling and branches breaking), symbols (black sorcery), signs (prints, blood and remains) and the humidly suffocating environment help it come alive. A creepy superstitious back-story helps a lot too. Throughout sound effects were well used, as well as the eerie jungle backdrop in isolating the danger and uncertainness the characters found themselves in. Majority of the reliable tension is fuelled by the character interactions of the unknown, than that of the unsighted beast stalking its prey (although there's one scene involving it climbing down a tree where you only see its hands is fairly unnerving). Why this works is because the performances are appealing and they're well written giving them such weight to standout from each other. The acting led by Rupert Reid is hearty and intimate by all in style that only lends well to the story and chemistry. I can why some people might not like it, but for me it does have its moments beyond its wandering nature and not entirely seeing the creature wasn't a problem. You get a good enough look in the final shot.

"The Jungle" starts off strong with its gripping slow-burn format to only go off the beaten track in standard clichés and a disappointingly frenetic close.


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