Big cat conservationist LARRY BLACK and his filmmaker brother BEN travel into the Indonesian jungle to find and document the rare and endangered Javan Leopard. As they travel deeper and deeper into the jungle they realize they are being stalked by a deadly predator.
To be brutally honest, I came away from watching The Jungle feeling very disappointed and a little cheated. It was just boring, boring, boring from start to finish. In fact, I basically spent the entire film waiting for something, anything, to happen. Sadly, it never did. For this reason, I found it hard to find much to say about The Jungle without sounding too ‘ranty’.
Surprise, surprise, The Jungle jumped on the ‘found footage’ bandwagon and so the audience has to endure yet another horror film with shaky, nausea-inducing camerawork. In this case, the film explores a group of men (two Australian brothers and two locals who are a much more superstitious pair) who set out to a jungle in Indonesia to look for leopards. It doesn’t take long before things start to get weird, and they soon become aware of another ‘presence’ in their midst. Despite the perpetual protestations of there being ‘demons’ in the jungle by most of the local folk, the Australian blokes remain defiant until the very end, blinded by the passion for leopards. If I was to make comparisons with another film (aside from the obvious Blair Witch Project), I would probably mention a title like Cannibal Holocaust, and even further removed, but still with loose similarities, would be films like Predator and King Kong. This is because all of these films, including The Jungle, involve a group of people looking for something in the wilderness, and in all cases what they find is something entirely different.
However, the main problem with The Jungle is that the question isn’t ever really answered. We get one flash of a supposed demon-creature and that’s your lot. What a swizz! Especially as there were no decent kills throughout the entire movie as well. Of course, I understand that things have to happen and be revealed at the right pace, and that one should never underestimate the power of mystery (think about the crappy CGI aliens which appeared in M.Night Shyamalan’s film Signs), but come on! The audience needs some incentive to keep watching. In all honesty, this film made me tear my hair out a little bit. The script is always the very essence of any film, and The Jungle lacked any sort of substance whatsoever.
Another frustrating element to The Jungle is the fact that the main characters were so infuriating. This really didn’t help the situation, because rarely can a film succeed where the main characters are utterly unlikable. The two Australians didn’t seem to show the slightest consideration towards the beliefs of the Indonesian people, which is crazy considering they have been allowed access to their village. The main characters relentless, dogged pursuit of these damn leopards begins to grate a little, and I can’t help but feel sorry for his poor wife (featured briefly at the start of the film) who has to put up with the knowledge that she is second place in his affections. Towards the end of the film, they don’t even seem to like each other. It is indeed the ending of The Jungle which I found the most odd and nonsensical. Because it was all handheld, the darkness coupled with the running and screaming, made it hard to fully realise what was going on. If you hadn’t already given up on the film, you definitely will at this point because it then becomes clear that nothing will be offered to us.
Sorry Andrew Traucki (director), but my advice to the film fans out there is to avoid this one if you can. Although, he has actually done some more successful work, so feel free instead to check out his first feature length Black Water or his second, The Reef. It’s a shame that The Jungle failed to make an impact – I personally blame the choice to make it a found footage film. Together without the constant dullness and lack of any ‘events’ of any kind, perhaps settle for some paint drying instead!
The Jungle (2013)