Overview: A group of overeager American college students in search of paradise take a trip to Panama, only to uncover an evil presence lurking beneath the lush façade of an exotic idyll. Lightning Entertainment; 2015; Rated R; 86 Minutes.
Articulated Terror: Director Alastair Orr sets up his creature feature, Indigenous, as a part of the cultural mythology established around the world regarding the mythical creature known as the Chupacabra, a beast of Latin American legend said to prey upon animals, especially goats. In introducing a cast of American twenty-somethings into the mix, in search of an erroneously fabled oasis in the jungle of Panama, Orr dregs up some of the most well-worn elements of the mainstream horror genre and produces a highly capable (albeit exhausting and predictable) thriller surrounding blasé immoralities and their expected supernatural repercussions. There is certainly nothing horribly offensive in the film, but there is also an utter lack of any reason to become invested in Orr’s remarkably well-shot sequences of overtly articulated terror. The entire production comes off as being even less interested in itself than any assumed viewer might wish to be.
Primordial Schlock and Awe: If you go into Indigenous with the expectation of a high quality B-movie, replete with a cookie-cutter narrative, obviously foreboding imagery backed by a self-consciously brooding soundtrack, and affectless acting all around, then you might not be disappointed, but you probably won’t be all that entertained, either. Orr sets himself up to bring the Chupacabra legend to mainstream cinematic fare, but in so doing loses sight of the myth itself; instead, he crafts a beast akin to every other incarnation of primordial evil imaginable. The film is regressively light in terms of representing the culture and legacy that it might otherwise wish to represent in naming its star monster after an infamous regional legend, and instead offers schlock and awe where it might have delivered genuine insight into the exotic locale that it aims to represent in name only.
Rote Genre Digression: By the end of the film’s appropriately brief runtime of just under 90 minutes, viewers may have had a decent enough experience with Orr’s digressions on the Chupacabra legend, but will likely leave with little more than a passing memory of an entirely rote horror production. Without erring from any of its pre-established filmmaking conventions, and while being weighed down by a troupe of community-theater-level star players, Indigenous offers a quaint independent thriller that’s light on both visceral horror and dramatic intensity. The entire production suffers from feeling too well-rehearsed and tidily constructed as a vehicle for delivering its local legend as mainstream horror fodder. It fails to overcome the inertia of a film that lacks any ingenuity or creativity of its own. It doesn’t set itself apart from all of the many mid-budget, B-movie productions that seem to be made, regurgitated, and then reconstructed for mass media consumption, over and over again to the detriment of the general movie going audience.
Overall: There’s little to speak to in recommending Indigenous as a horror film to check out, but if you’re in need of a passing amusement that requires very little work on the part of the viewer, then Orr’s film might just provide one with a means to pass an hour’s time away until better viewing options present themselves.