Soooooooo, that happened. As much as I would like to talk about the election results, I’m not going to and instead will focus on today’s movie. Now it has been a while since I have watched a killer crocodile movie so I am really looking forward to this one. The thing that makes this movie really interesting is that it is based, somewhat loosely, on a real man-eating crocodile that has been living in Burundi for decades. So let’s see what we have with today’s movie, Primeval.
The plot: At a mass grave in Burundi, a UN forensic anthropologist is examining the bodies found in a mass grave. With a soldier escorting her, she heads off and finds what she believes to be another mass grave but when she pushes her shovel into the ground, a tremor occurs and something attacks her and drags her into the water. The soldier that accompanied her starts firing into the water, as do the other soldiers who were attracted by the commotion, but stop when they see her half eaten body briefly float to the surface before it is pulled underwater again. In New York City, reporter Tim Manfrey is called into Roger’s (his boss) office and introduced to Aviva Masters, a reporter that focuses on animal stories. Roger wants Tim and his cameraman, Steven Johnson, to accompany Aviva and a herpetologist named Matt Collins to Africa and document their attempt to capture Gustave, a large nile crocodile responsible for the attack on the anthropologist as well as hundreds of other victims. Tim refuses at first, knowing that Burundi is in the midst of a civil war, but Roger threatens to fire Tim over running a story based off of false evidence. When the three arrive in Burundi, they are greeted by Harry, their government liaison, who tells them that they can’t leave just yet as there is unrest in the brush but after Tim fakes calling Roger and threatening to leave, Harry says that he will have everything ready for them tomorrow. Later, they meet up with Matt and board a boat manned by two soldiers and prepare to head to the northern part of the country to meet with a hunter/guide but Harry warns them that they will be close to territory controlled by Little Gustave, a vicious warlord that took his name from the crocodile. As the boat moves down the river during the night, Tim and Aviva are talking when some people on the shore start shooting at the boat and the soldiers accompanying them shoot back, killing the attackers. When they reach where they are heading, they are told by Jacob, the hunter they are meeting, that there was another attack but it is inside Little Gustave’s territory and they are going to have to risk running into his men as they drive to the latest attack site. When they reach the village where the last attack occurred, the villagers are excited to see the visitors. The next day, they are taken to a local shaman, who blesses them but warns them of danger. Assembling the cage to capture Gustave, the villagers carry the cage through the brush to the edge of the river. Aviva pays the villagers for helping them but some of them, including a boy named Jojo who can speak English, stays on to help them as Jacob uses pheromones to try and lure Gustave into the cage. That night, Aviva is playing with Wiley, a dog she befriended in the village, when they Steven alerts her and Tim to the camera’s they have watching the cages. On camera, they see Gustave approaching the cage but starts to swim away and Matt, who is in a blind with Jacob, is able to shoot it with a tracking dart before it disappears. In the morning, they find that the goat they used for bait is gone and nothing was captured on camera as the storm knocked out the motion sensors. Steven decides to head back and switch out the camera’s but as he makes his way through the brush, he witnesses and films the shaman and his family being executed by some of Little Gustave’s men. Heading back to the camp with the footage, he shows it to the others and they argue over what to do with it, unaware that one of the soldiers overhears them and radios it in to his boss. Jojo climbs into the cage and uses himself as bait to lure Gustave to the cage but he ends up trapping himself in the cage, which Gustave then attacks and knocks into the water. Tim, Steven, Matt, Jacob, and one of the soldiers race to the water and Jacob throws a grenade in the water to try and scare off Gustave while Tim swims over and manages to rescue Jojo. Meanwhile, the other soldier has gone into Aviva’s tent and stolen her money and when she catches him, he attempts to rape her but he ends up being killed by Gustave. Aviva runs to the others and they head back to camp to try and salvage what they can. Jacob wants to head back to the village immediately, saying it isn’t safe there but as he starts to leave, he is shot by the remaining soldier, and Jacob says that he is working for Little Gustave. The soldier takes them down to the river in order to execute them but he ends up being shot by Jojo. As the group take shelter from the rain on the dock, Gustave attacks them and Jacob tells them how Gustave killed his wife and he swore revenge, before grabbing a grenade and pulling the pin, just as Gustave grabs him and throws him into the water. When the grenade explodes, the group believes that Gustave has been killed until Gustave surfaces with Jacob in his jaws and proceeds to tear him apart. The next day, they see a helicopter searching for them and they make their way back to camp but when a jeep with some of Little Gustave’s men shows up and fires an RPG at it, the helicopter flies off. Matt runs after the helicopter and ends up getting struck by the jeep and then killed by one of the men inside. As the two men start firing into the grass to flush out the others, Jojo tells them that the men are looking for the tape Steven filmed of the execution. Tim and the others try and make a run for the trees but they end up getting separated. Jojo tries to shoot the driver but misses and ends up getting shot in the shoulder but the jeep wrecks, killing one of the men when he is thrown from the truck. The driver goes to finish off Jojo but Tim stops him and as the two fight, Aviva manages to shoot him before he kills Tim. Meanwhile, Steven gets separated from the group and runs into Gustave and as he tries to escape from him, he drops his camera, which Tim finds when he goes looking for Steven. When Tim returns to Aviva and Jojo, he tells Aviva that he thinks all the bodies from the civil war are what has given Gustave a taste for human flesh. When Harry shows up with a soldier, they are happy for the rescue but Tim notices the shaman’s necklace hanging from the rearview mirror and realizes that Harry is actually Little Gustav. Harry tells them that he wants the computer and Tim lies and says the tracking device is for the computer. Leaving Jojo in the car, the four head follow the tracking device and end up at Gustave’s lair. Tim and the soldier head through the swamp and Tim finds the tracking dart has been dislodged from Gustave’s body, as well as Steven’s corpse. Tim attacks and kills the soldier while Aviva, having spotted Jacob’s thermos of pheromones floating nearby, grabs it and douses Harry in the liquid. Tim and Aviva try to escape but Harry shoots Tim. Gustave suddenly appears but instead of going after Tim and Aviva, it goes after and kills Harry. Tim and Aviva head back to the Range Rover but Aviva stops to grab Wiley, who had survived the attack on the camp and followed her. When Gustave appears and goes after Aviva, Tim hits Gustave with the Range Rover but ends up getting stuck in the mud on the bank. Gustave breaks through the rear window to try and get at them and Tim stabs it in the mouth repeatedly until it backs out and they are able to drive away. Some time later, Tim, Aviva, Jojo, and Wiley are on a plane back to America, with Tim and Aviva watching some of the footage of Steven from their trip, while back in the village, a fishing boat is attacked and the two men are killed by Gustave.
Primeval met with mostly negative reviews from the critics, holding a 19% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. “Primeval is a low-quality horror film, which due to the inane political messages does not even qualify as campy fun.” The promotional campaign for the movie would say it was about a serial killer that had killed 300 people, but there was hardly any mention of the fact that it was a crocodile, though the trailer did have the crocodile appear briefly. The movie did not fare well at the box office, earning $15.2 million during it’s theatrical run.
This is one of those times where I wish this was more of a made for TV movie instead of a big budget feature. It would have been a lot more fun to watch. That being said, this wasn’t a completely bad movie. The acting was pretty good, with Dominc Purcell (Tim) and Brooke Langton (Aviva) doing good jobs in their roles, with Orlando Jordan (Steven) making for some great comedic relief. The story was interesting in regards to the basis for the movie, but the background issue of the civil war/Little Gustave angle kind of took away from the movie as a whole. The special effects involving Gustave were pretty good for the most part, but there were times that they were pretty cheesy, which again made me wish this was more of a made for TV movie as then it would have been funnier to watch.
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5