Starring: Michelle Rodriguez, Oliver Hudson, and Taryn Manning
Directed by: Nick Mastandrea
I'm more a dog lover than a cat lover. I tolerate cats, and that's about it. Anyway, this DVD came in to my library in December for some reason that defies logic and reason. They're not in the habit of ordering in horror films, so I'm left to assume this was a donation from someone who bought the DVD and realized it had no place in their permanent collection.
Wes Craven slapped his name on this movie as an executive producer, and that may entice some people, but I'm more inclined to call it a coin toss. The Breed ironically enough came up tails.
Five twenty-somethings head out to a deserted island owned by the uncle of the two brothers leading the weekend of heavy drinking and hijinks. The characters are set up pretty quickly, but I've long since forgotten any of the characters' names. The brother flying the plane is the older, slacker of a brother who has convinced his younger, studious brother to ditch university the week before his finals so they can spend some time together. Along with them is the younger brother's girlfriend, played by Rodriguez, and is also the ex-boyfriend of the older brother--ooh, tension. There's also a longtime friend of the brothers played by Taryn Manning, and a flirtatious yet platonic friend who is friends with them all. He's also black, and I'll be damned if he didn't end up being the first of the group of five to die in the film.
Okay, first gripe. It's the twenty-first century and I'd have thought we, as a society, have moved on from such hackneyed, lazy, and borderline racist treatment of what amounts to a token black member to the cast of characters. Killing the black guy first should be left to parody, so when done in a serious film, I lose interest. Yes, a blond white chick dies in the first five minutes of the movie, but she's there solely as part of an excuse to provide the escape route for the group of five. And the "the black guy's going to die first" vibe is so overt, it's kind of comical.
Moving on, the threat on the island comes in the form of a pack of wild, possibly rabid dogs. They've lived on the island for years in a feral state and are out for blood, even though they seem to enjoy teasing out cheap scares by hiding in bushes half the time. There are dozens of dogs on the island, so why they sneak about is beyond me. After a puppy wanders up to the five friends at the cabin, they cuddle up to the critter with no questions about where it came from or to whom it belongs. Oh, they ask questions, but do nothing to follow up on their fleeting curiosity--Oh look, a puppy on a deserted island, can I keep him?
I'm grateful that the director opted for real dogs, mostly German shepherds, to be in the film as opposed to some cartoonish CGI trash. On the DVD cover, the dogs in the foreground and exaggerated to a ridiculous level. If the disproportional heads and paws are meant to denote menace, the guy who Photoshopped the cover failed miserably. The dogs--and the dog dummies that take brutal beating during the more gruesome spots--are quite imposing that to an admirable makeup job and good training. If you saw a pack of dogs like that standing on the crest of a hill, you'd probably become incontinent.
The acting ranges from mediocre to dreadful. Taryn Manning is particularly shaky in her performance, as she's bitten by one of the dogs early on and starts to change in personality as whatever "disease" takes hold on her. Unfortunately, she already looked like a strung out junkie when the film started, so her supposed descent is unremarkable. And the writing for her character is sporadic, as she starts to change in mood at one point, then just becomes ill the next, then aggressive again. It's like the screenwriters couldn't make up their mind which way to go with that aspect of the story.
The chills and spills are nothing new, but most are accomplished fairly well. But when the dogs are busting through windows and walls, I had to wonder why they didn't do that from the beginning. Instead, they tease and taunt the people on the island, as if they're not just ravenous but evil and a little bit more intelligent than your average dog. And there is a scene so out of place in the movie in both style and tempo, I am convinced you'll know it when you see it. Here's a hint: It involves archery.
Overall, it's an uneven movie with a very predictable ending that's telegraphed early on. If there's nothing left to rent from Blockbuster, Netflix, or your local library, give this one a shot for some cheap scares. For me, I think The Breed needs to be spayed or neutered.