Black Faces White Messages – Reviewing ANIMAL (2014) Horror Film

ANIMAL- I enjoy horror movies. Let me rephrase that, I enjoy GOOD horror movies. The Brett Simmons directed, and Thommy Hutson, Catherine Trillo scripted Animal unfortunately does not qualify as a good film, of the horror or any other variety. The film starts interestingly enough, but quickly devolves into stereotype and stupidity. I am so sick of these films where the male character of color is the asshole. Now I’m not saying that can’t happen, but I’ve saying in these genre films, when that ALWAYS happens, that’s a stereotype.

And there is no quicker way to get me to write off a film or a filmmaker, than to fill the work with 21st century examples of Step & Fetchit. Black faces, yes, but forever regurgitating White messages of Blackness and Ethnicity and Wish-fulfillment. Whether that being the White guy as always the hero who gets the girl (increasingly the Black Girl), or the male character of color only as sexless side-kick at best, obnoxious fool or ignorant comedy relief at worst.

Amaury Nolasco gets the really reprehensible roll of the A-hole in this movie, and is so far tweaked, that he is beyond the stereotypical mustache twirling villain. It’s character pushed to the point where it is nothing more than caricature. I would have disliked any actor playing such a poorly written, idiotically extreme character, but considering how few roles are made available to characters of color in genre movies, specifically Horror movies, it becomes especially damning and noticeable, each new role that adds to the reoccurring positioning of male characters of color as inept and belligerent and reprehensible.

I understand actors need to work, but actors of color need to be more selective of the roles they take. And filmmakers need to be more cognizant of what they are selling as genre, may just be veiled stereotype and bigotry. I don’t think the filmmakers set out to make minstrel show films, films sporting Black faces, but white messages, it is simply people not challenged on their lazy thinking, and lazy view of the world, have no reason to grow beyond it.

So that’s where this new installment comes in, BLACK FACES, WHITE MESSAGES, it serves to highlight filmmakers and actors, that are producing films perhaps more at home in 1920 then 2020.

I know a lot of ethnic guys and gals (obviously unlike the filmmakers) and most of them are good, fun people. Of course you have your occasional asshole, but that demographic is the exception rather than the rule, and is as likely to come in all colors and persuasions.

It would be nice to see Horror and Genre Films that showed me a diverse range of humanity, with Heroes of Color, not just Villains. And actors of color who get the girl, rather than get to play the eunuch who gets dissed by the girl (STAR TREK NEXT GENERATION, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, ANDROMEDA comes to mind, the stereotype is so ingrained in TV and Movies it is ubiquitous, so when you have the rare show or movie that bucks the trend, HANCOCK, HELL ON WHEELS, ARROW it is embraced by a population starved for people that look like them in positive and winning roles).

So ANIMAL by filmmakers Brett Simmons, Thommy Hutson, Catherine Trillo get this installments BADGE OF SHAME. Netflix and Amazon Prime please drop this film, and replace it with something better. Grade : AVOID!


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