Written by guest contributor Brian Roe
The third film in director Andrew Traucki’s “Trilogy of Terror”, The Jungle is a fast paced ride that at 84 minutes feels trim and to the point.
Rupert Reid plays Larry Black, a conservationist intent on finding evidence of the rare Javan Leopard. He enlists his brother Ben to film his expedition and they both head off to Indonesia, the camera rolling the whole time. There they meet Budi (Agoes Widjaya Soedjarwo) their Indonesian government contact and Adi (Igusti Budianthika) their tracker. There is a fast friction between Larry and Adi and it keeps even the day-to-day scenes tense.
After visiting a local shaman who gives them warnings that Larry willfully ignores the foursome head off into the vast jungle in search of their great cats. But of course they find much more than they bargained for.
Although Larry is a conservationist who really wants to save the leopard he is also a smug white guy who dismisses any native beliefs as nonsense and keeps pushing himself and his companions into situations that a more rational person would avoid. His ego manifests itself often and it’s this trait that threatens to doom him and his party.
I am one of those people who finds shaky-cam/found footage movies hard to watch. Often the camera movement is merely an excuse to cover up bad cinematography. That is not the case with The Jungle. The camera is controlled and is used to hide as much as it reveals. The constant shift between daylight to nighttime to night-vision view is used effectively. Along with some brilliant sound design the Indonesian jungle is made to feel humid, dangerous, and claustrophobic.
Another interesting technique is the use of Budi and Adi’s conversations in Indonesian to both give information and conceal it. Although Larry professes to know some of the language it is obvious that he can’t keep up with the rapid fire dialogue between his two native companions. Adi especially seems to be deliberately trying to turn the party back and seems to be equally warning and pleading with Budi and Larry to make the sane choice. But of course they won’t.
I was initially shocked by the rating of The Jungle being an “R” for Language. Really? I know that every PG-13 gets one “FUCK” only (say that in Connery’s voice) but honestly this movie doesn’t deserve an R even if the Aussie characters toss “fucks” around like sprinkles on a Homer Simpson donut.
It is frightening and tense but the bloodshed is really minimal and limited to the leftovers from various attacks. This is in no way detrimental to the effect of the movie and it’s actually fun to watch a film that isn’t trying to impress you with gore effects. Especially in an era of crappy CGI gore this was welcome. And the one truly creepy scene in this movie is truly worth the price of admission.
A lot of scenes that could have been drawn out to pointless lengths are trimmed to keep things moving and this results in a film that feels like a well executed commando raid. Get in, achieve the mission, and get out. And in a genre of film that can easily take itself way too seriously, The Jungle makes for a refreshing change.
Director: Andrew Traucki Studio: Lightning Entertaiment, Screen NSW, and Mysterious Light Run Time: 84 mins Price: $19.99 Release Date: 6/24/14