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Monkey Farm - CatchMeKillMe Productions Print E-mail
User Rating: / 4
Written by Jay Creepy   
Monday, 19 February 2018
Review of Monkey Farm from CatchMeKillMe Productions on Severed Cinema

Directed by: Ian Messenger
Written by: Ian Messenger
Produced by: Tim Fattig, Ian Messenger
Cinematography by: Justin Celani
Special Effects by: Don Carlos, Beth Messenger
Music by: Jason Graham
Editing by: Justin Celani, Tim Fattig
Cast: Justin Celani, Zach Etter, Acacia Makarewicz, Christana Pflueger, Ian Messenger, Jake Pigman, Lawrence Rowe, Rob Tenny
Year: 2017
Country: USA
Language: English
Color: Color/B&W
Runtime: 1h 16min

Studio: CatchMeKillMe Productions, Rising Fire Films

I don't really think I know of, or have heard rumours about any horror fans which are pure lovers of found footage/documentary-style movies. Sure, loads like Blair Witch, the REC ones, Paranormal Activity, and the sort. Personally, I really like Ghost Encounters and Troll Hunter. As Above, So Below also thrilled me.

However, I can't imagine anybody considering a loving all-night marathon unless they want to go blind or have a fit midway due to shaky cams and fast edits. That being all said and done, if a film is put together in a good style, and doesn't get too clever with its over-the-top spinning camera views every second, then enjoyment can be had. Welcome one and all, to Ian Messengers, Monkey Farm. It’s shot documentary-style, low budget, and (aside from some pacing problems) it’s entertaining.

Opening briefly with the terrified screams and pants of people running in the dark, we leave them after the title card and into the arms of brothers, Ryan and Gunner, whose plans are simple. They are “going round all day talking to doctors and scientists talking about stuff that's way out of my league,” quoted via a distressed Ryan. The 'talking' is about weighing the pros and cons of animal testing. They begin with a doctor who, aside from winning the Bryan Cranston lookalike competition held annually by Breaking Bad enthusiasts, is for animal testing and offers his side of the argument via a world without aspirin, whereas interview two, Dr. Gomez, gives over details of the actual build-up to testing -- confines, being starved, the pain of the tests, etcetera. “When they've served their purpose, their necks are broken, or they are asphyxiated.” His argument is basically, no one has any true idea of what goes on behind those lab doors. His closing point is the actual amount of drugs which fail on humans once leaving the labs.

Afterwards, we meet the rest of the team: Max, Sienna, Scarlet, girlfriends, and pals. Speaking to a chap called Dr. Reeves, on Skype, there is a mention of a primate sanctuary in Arizona. It was alleged to be once a testing site, now a sanctuary. After some controversy, it has since been abandoned. Reeves states that perhaps if they find old records, or an ex-worker of the building, it may be useful to them. It doesn't take long for the brothers to figure out a road trip is in order.

Armed with cameras and a whole bag of enthusiasm, off they go with the idea of filming what conditions were truly like when the sanctuary was still open. It's a long hike for many miles across the desert and crappy roads. After some time they make it to one of the old brutally derelict buildings of the “Monkey Farm.” It's Scarlet who begins to sense that somebody else might well be around, and she feels uncomfortable. Gunner tells her it's too remote of a location and not to worry. All of them begin to notice a terrible smell which is in each room and corridor, plus the fact it appears that everyone left in a hurry.

In the last building, they find papers which mention a chimp called Samson, the “largest on record.” Six feet tall and with a weight of over two hundred pounds. This monster chimp was found so many miles from a nuclear power station. Apparently, over time, he developed almost human actions, such as modesty and wearing clothes. The breakdown is thus, the whole facility was to monitor and work on one specimen – Samson.

Later, discussions over food in a fast food restaurant, our gang figure that what they have discovered so far could be a lot bigger than what they set out to do. Gunnar is the primary encouraging force behind this new venture whilst everyone else is wavering. Suddenly as they talk, a fella at the next table, Jimmy, leans over enquiring if they are talking about Samson. Interviewed outside, Jimmy and his bloke, Beckett explain how at night the whole monkey farm area feels like it comes alive with a mind of its own. Samson has become a kind of urban legend. The lads recommend visiting a father and son team, Roger and Henry Miller, who have a Facebook page, etcetera, devoted to Samson. The father claims that the “skunk ape” had relations with his wife. This causes our hero brothers to break down laughing and they have to make a hasty exit.

Offering to pay the hulking bearded, Henry if he goes out at night with them, the team arrive at the Monkey Farm grounds after dark. He goes one way, they go the other. As creeped out as they are in the buildings, things get far worse very soon.

The biggest fault in this film is the lengthy interviews at the beginning. Though well detailed and researched, they drag – especially Dr. Reeves via Skype. A lot of people will probably drift away from the points being made. They are well-made points but kind of 'let's nail a message to everyone’s foreheads' kind of approach with no balance as such. The same can be said of the over-long plodding static shot interviews that sometimes run over into considerable tempted-to-fast-forward territory.

The original escapades around the facility are well paced, slow burning to get a feel for the characters and the area – and a lot of footage consisting of actresses', Acacia Makarewicz and Christana Pflueger's asses. Returning at night, once we've had glimpses of Samson (played by Ian Messenger) and a few cast members are dead – some choice gore moments, it lapses into way-too-long woods shots. To quote Captain Rhodes in George Romero's, Day of the Dead: “I'm running this monkey farm now, Frankenstein! I wanna know what the fuck you're doing with my time??!!” Erm, wasting a lot by padding out the running time pointlessly wherein a few script additions and ideas may have helped.

One of the tagline descriptions given out about this flick is about doomed kids you love to cheer for as they meet their end. I wouldn't agree. Lengthy banal conversations aside, the teens are actually likeable which is certainly a rare breed plopped into a horror like this. They are inoffensive and sometimes acting quite intelligently, whilst other times not doing.

Monkey Farm apes (ho-hum) The Blair Witch Project and Quarantine often and struggles sometimes to stand up for its own identity. The choice of locations are a marvel though, and the overall acting abilities are ranged from mediocre to okay, but never atrocious. Concluding on a decent note that thankfully isn't really dangling a sequel carrot, Monkey Farm fares better than a few underground flicks of this kind. Don't go in expecting a shining gem, because there's a lot of rough edges which certainly might have been avoided using some more thought.


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