Director Jacqueline Castel‘s stunning visual style and two strong lead performances aren’t enough to save “My Animal,” a frustratingly generic and slow-paced film. This queer horror / romance feels listless and unoriginal to a fault, which is a shame because the talent is evident both in front of and behind the camera.
Heather (Bobbi Salvör Menuez) is an outcast in her small northern town. Struggling to keep her sexuality a secret from the judging eyes of the community, she feels at home on the ice rink, where she dreams of being the goalie on the local hockey team. When she meets figure skater Jonny (Amandla Stenberg), the two start a relationship that feels a little “off” from the get-go. It’s soon revealed that Heather not only faces serious struggles at home with an alcoholic mother, but there’s also a hidden family curse that requires her to be shackled to her bed every full moon. Everything comes to head during a night of violent passion, and neither of the two women will ever be the same.
It’s a story that blends the teenage romance, family drama, and monster horror genres, with varying degrees of success. There isn’t much to the script (written by Jae Matthews), and the tedious slow burn is alienating (especially when it culminates in a disappointing ending). There is a lot of unnecessary filler, especially with a few drug-induced stupor scenes that drone on and on and on. Luckily, Stenberg and Menuez have a fiery chemistry that lends an intensity to the film like no other, and the ominous visuals and sound design combine to set an appropriately creepy and sinister atmospheric tone.
I am certain there is an audience out there, albeit a very limited one, for “My Animal.” I didn’t find it very interesting, and the pacing is detrimental overall.
By: Louisa Moore