Monkey Farm (2017)

Director: Ian Messenger
Starring: Justin Celani, Tim Christie, ach Etter, Austin Messenger, Ian Messenger, Jake Pigman .USA. 1h 16m

A slightly unusual found footage, mockumentary movie, which sees a young group of film makers divert from their original movie as they discover a myth of a animal testing site which may or may not still be operation. Ian Messenger’s quirky film, tries to achieve something only very slightly different from the average found footage movie but it fails to really strike fear and hides it’s biggest asset, luckily it’s only just over an hour long so it’s not too painful to check out.

Initially the group are making a film about animal testing, it’s unclear what the motives really are, after interviewing a few professionals they collect testomonies for and against the testing but one Doctor invites them to visit a place known as the Monkey Farm, and after a bit of Googling the head out to see what’s left of the site which was once used for animal testing but is now a Sanctuary.

Filmed from the perspective of a few self trained camera handlers and go pros the film is pretty accurate in its approach of being found footage. It’s flashy, with wild angles from cameras that have been left on tables etc but the cuts are a little too perfect, but as the acting is so terrible then it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The yarn that Monkey Farm attempts to unravel is pretty interesting but the method is laboured, for a while it’s interesting to see if the facility is myth or real, but once they find the presumed ruins the instantly discover a legendary animal that was kept on site, a strange Chimp that walked upright at 6 ft tall who used sign language and insisted on wearing human clothes, specifically a suit; the character on the cover which attracted me to the movie in the first place. Sadly there’s very little seen of this character, which I feel really lets the film down as this could have stepped it up from mediocre found footage to legendary mockumentary.

While the acting is on the dire side, I have to admit that the characters are really funny and fairly easy to gel with than I was expecting, quarreling brother, a feuding brothers, there are some stereotypes but the group meet a father and son team who hunt Skunk Apes and do offer to help out eventually but for their first interview it’s full of conspiracy wingnut talk about cryptids having sexual relations with wives etc, I was checking the sky from this point on just in case some grays turned up.

Generally the film feel a bit “unfinished” maybe it’s the short running time and the lack of Samson in the movie, when he finally appears the show in almost over, which is a crying shame. Maybe this is down to Messengers limited experience with full length features but hopefully he’ll be able to iron out the issues and come back stronger. One awesome feature is that certain posters and logos are blurred out which is something you don’t see in many found footage movies, so it’s breaking new ground, but it failed to declare how the footage was found and who put it together.

As a found footage b movie it works, but on a par with other such as First Summoning (2018) or the Last Broadcast (1998) they seem more concerned with the less than thrilling interactions between the cast and getting to the finale rather than building atmosphere along the way, which can be done using this filming technique, very few seem to think so but it has been done very successfully, even in the infamous Blair Witch (1999) or even Occult Angel (2018).

I really would have respected the project more if there was some effort into making Samson’s character whole, the opportunities are endless but it wasn’t done, there was a very interesting spot at the ending where a young girl is running for her life with the rising sun which I feel is a mini homage to Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) but there are very few thrilling scenes with this level of attention.

Rating: 3/10

R:First Summoning (2018), The Last Broadcast (1998), The Blair Witch Project (1999), First Born (1988)

L: A-Z of Found Footage Movies, Ape Horrors,

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