Indigenous (2014)

Directed by Alastair Orr

Written by Max Roberts

Starring Zachary Soetenga, Lindsey McKeon, Pierson Fode & Sofia Pernas

Creature features are an all too common trope in the horror canon. You know the kind I mean… they usually preface with “The Asylum presents” or “A SyFy Original film”  etc. etc. It’s a simple formula, you take a mythological, cryptid or amalgam beast, present it with a group of 20-somethings to devour and have it.

What you have with Indigenous is another entry into this infamous sub genre yet with a few good ideas that allow it to stand out from the over saturated horde. The setting is the Darien Gap in Panama, the beast in question is El Chupacabra. We’ve seen plenty of Chupa movies before from the aforementioned studios,  amongst the more well known being Dark Seas (2005). What makes Indigenous the best of this bunch is that the filmmakers obviously wanted to do something different.

Here we have a film shot on location in the Panamanian jungle, a feat that alone makes up for the usual B movie dreck. It seems to take strong influence from other films such as Neil Marshall’s breakout claustrophobia inducer The Descent (2005), both in creature design and in shot setup. If you’ve seen The Descent, you’ll know this only bodes well. True, some scenes are pretty mediocre in their execution but things kick off when we get out of the jungle and into the caves. The beast itself looks great for what was likely a limited budget, a classic actor in a suit monstrosity that, while only bearing slight resemblance to the classic Chupa myth, still packs a feral and animalistic wallop.

At its bleeding heart, this film really is a monster-of-the-week. It’s cliched with a so-so cast of young adults and it seems to revel in an equilibrium of scenes that will make one roll their eyes compared to others that will cause one to nod in appreciation. Of note is an interesting viral video subplot arriving late in the game and the subsequent news coverage of our missing protagonists. This alone drives the film into an appropriately unique territory and lends some legitimate feeling of importance to the monster attacks. Also unique is how the events of this film are said to affect tales of cryptids across the globe.

Indigenous is a decent film, a solid, no frills yet perfectly serviceable monster movie. The effects are good, the gore is solid and the setting is lush and unique. It had a few clever ideas that offset its cliches, bland characters and rather abrupt ending. It won’t set the world on fire but its a smidge better than most of the films of its ilk and a worthy diversion for creature feature or cryptid junkies.

A solid 3/5 viral distress videos

Splatter Factor: 2.5/5   **** Not bad, gore wise. Nothing really stands out but gorehounds will revel in some gruesome maulings, the beast feasting on a victim, a face ripping and a gnarly looking broken bone. Plus the blood dripping maw of the Chupa looks slick. Not half bad. ***

The Collective Speaks:

We of The Hive Mind revel in the tales of creatures unknown and fantastic. Our nexus is currently located in the American Southwest, thus increasing the relevance of the Chupacabra myth. We believe the beast to be lurking amidst the sage and canopies of both the arid and tropical locales of this region. This particular specimen, while missing some key characteristics, is a suitably savage individual. We applaud his efforts to stand out from the bloodthirsty pack, even if his overall efforts are but merely decent. Take heed from other cinematic offerings such as The Ruins (2008) and The Shallows (2015)… when abroad in Central American, stick to the beaten path lest you fall prey to our beasts of old. 

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