I recently reviewed a surprisingly entertaining werewolf flick that came seemingly out of nowhere. Straight off the heels of that look at Howl comes another were- flick, also somewhat out of the blue and straight to home release. This time, it is Daniel Robbins’ independent effort, Uncaged.
Shortly after turning 18, Jack (Ben Getz) gets a letter from his uncle, inviting him to stay at his cabin. His cousin, Brandon (Zack Weiner), and friend, Turner (Kyle Kirkpatrick), decide to join Jack and make the best of uncle Mike’s place, the perfect spot to do some partying. After their first night’s stay, however, Jack wakes up in the woods, naked and freezing. Curious to find out exactly what is going on, Jack decides to strap Turner’s Go-Pro to his head. Upon viewing the footage from another confusing night, Jack finds out that something is terribly wrong and has to learn to take control, before it takes control of him.
The majority of written reviews found online for Uncaged are pretty negative. I personally don’t understand where all of the criticism is coming from; Have these reviewers never watched a low-budget horror movie before? There are tons of garbage genre films out there and I’m happy to report that Daniel Robbin’s sophomore effort is definitely not one of them.
Right from the start, my expectations were surpassed, as the production value and cinematography far exceeded anything I had imagined I was going to get. Uncaged, like most independent horror, features a cast of unknowns. Thankfully, this is not a bad thing at all, this time around. I was impressed with everyone from the film extras (notably co-producer and Frat Bro #1, Michael Gelfand, who also happens to me a co-worker of mine) to our main group of protagonists — Jack, Brandon, and Turner. The trio seemed to really click with one another, making for a natural on-screen chemistry. There is also a pretty neat cameo from Gene Jones, who Ti West fans will recognize from last year’s Jonestown Massacre-inspired The Sacrament.
In comparison to the aforementioned Howl, and quite honestly most other entries in the werewolf sub-genre, Uncaged is pretty tame. There isn’t very much gore on display, aside from some pretty creative and beautifully rendered graphic illustrations, which help tell the history of some of Jack’s family members and notorious acts they may or may not have committed. Those explicit drawings are really all the blood viewers get from this one… until the last 15 minutes start to roll, that is.
The final act of the film is where the slow-pace really pays off for true wolfman fans. We finally get our inevitable transformation scene and some true werewolf rip-em-up kills. I honestly wasn’t even expecting to see young Jack transform into creature form because I wasn’t sure Robbins and his team knew how to pull it off successfully. I could not be more wrong, however. When the change finally does take place on screen, it is way better than I expected from this indie film and I had a grin on my face from ear to ear. On top of that, Jack disposes of the film’s antagonists in some pretty brutal fashion, again catching me totally off guard.
Like all genre films, Uncaged is not without its flaws. Does this make it a bad film? Not in the least bit! There are some confusing plot changes (i.e. the introduction of strong-armed goon Gonzo (Garrett Hendricks), the subplot surrounding him and his wife, etc.), but overall, it was a solid effort by young filmmakers who show tons of promise — Daniel Robbins and his crew certainly were aware of their limitations and stayed well within their boundaries, which is a sign of great things to come. I am excited to see what is next from the new director and hope to hear of more projects very soon.
Uncaged contains impressive performances, comedic relief thanks to Zack Weiner’s Brandon, and an unpredictable climax reminiscent of the Jack Nicholson starrer, Wolf. If you are a fan of the werewolf sub-genre and a supporter of all things indie horror, I highly recommend this one. Pick up a copy on DVD, available now from Image Entertainment.
I give this one 3.5 random boob grabs out of 5.