After crashing an all-girl slumber party, Wolf and Jake awaken to a nightmare: every animal in the entire world have become blood thirsty beasts and want to kill every living human. After escaping a heard of vicious deer, Wolf, Jake and Jake's sister, Rachel, hit the road to help Wolf track down the girl of his dreams before she's killed and eaten. Also because there wasn't anything else better to do.
I know what you're thinking. You're looking at Chris Wojcik's "Rise of the Animals" and you're thinking, "I've seen this before. I've seen movies using crappy puppets for cheap laughs. It was stupid then and it's stupid now. What does this movie want from me? How can I get away from it." Well, first of all, you are a goddamn bastard for thinking that. Not for any particular reason, really. I just wanted to call you a bastard. Anyway, secondly, sure it seems like you've seen this before; a cheap movie using some stupid one-note gimmick in an attempt to gain attention for the project quickly. "Rise of the Animals" is much more than that though - it's an amazing contemporary piece of cinematic culture that deconstructs horror clichés while skillfully pointing out the flaws of modern societies.
From when we are born we are taught to believe that we are at the top of the food chain. We've got guns and various forms of transportation that can take us from the sky to the sea so we can kill and eat anything we damn well please. "Rise of the Animals" is designed to show the importance of the ecological structure and how we fit into it. Or rather, how humans act like school bullies amongst nature and the animal kingdom. Like many underdog stories, "Rise of the Animals" shows that while something or someone may think it's the biggest and baddest thing around and be default, it can do what ever it wants. It can always be taken down by the smallest of foes. This idea is heavily emphasized when you watch certain scenes in the movie: for instance, when a small brown bunny rips the throat out of a random person. Or the simple squirrel that can't be subdued by the police and their firearms.
It's easy to gloss over the skillfully crafted subtext and only see these moments of the animals attacking humans as mere shlock and stupidity, but there is definitely more to it than meets the eye. The main idea behind "Rise of the Animals" is to look at the relationship between humans and animals. There is also quite a bit of social commentary laced between the superficial images of a backyard splatter-comedy and the core concept - an examination of the atrocities that humans inflict upon nature. Going back to the scene of a squirrel going after two police officers where they automatically start firing upon the unarmed critter. Clearly it's a reflection of the incidents that occurred during the Occupy Wall Street movement where cops regularly brutalized unarmed civilians. It's a shameful reminder of the constant abuse of power that occurs with "officials" and also the general mentality people have of shoot first, ask questions later. The same can said in regards to the scene of a military plane dropping a bomb on a sea creature (Not sure if it was an octopus or a squid.) that's attacking a cruise ship. Especially when the explosion has the trademark mushroom cloud from a nuclear bomb.
Scenes such as those demonstrate the superior writing skills of Chris Wojcik who is able to take a moment and have it reference not only the main idea of the movie (animals rising up against the genocidal humans) but having the same scene represent current social and political issues. It's something many people try but very few have pulled off as seamlessly as Chris has. Everything in "Rise of the Animals" is fair game (pun intended) especially the horror genre. The cheesy, crappy and shlocky quality is intended to make horror fans and horror filmmakers pay attention. Obviously no one would purposely choose to use terrible puppets and awful CGI in a movie. That's what makes "Rise of the Animals" as clever as it is smart.
The movie is trying to drive the idea home to everyone and say: Yes, your horror movie can be cheesy and stupid. That's fine, but you still need story and heart within your movie. There is no shame in shlock but there is a desperate need for more intelligence to be put into horror movies these days. You can still have the same blood-soaked entertainment without having to dumb down the movie or talk down to the audience.
It really accomplishes in delivering the message by taking one cliché after another and infusing it within the walls of absurdity and ridiculousness. It doesn't use every cliché and sometimes avoids them to make an even bolder statement. The buxom blonde isn't the survival girl; it doesn't feature nudity even though it knows that's what people want to see - a chance to catch a glimpse of an actress's nipples. "Rise of the Animals" is bigger than that; it has something to say and doesn't want to cheapen it's ideals by playing to every perverse desire from the audience.
"Rise of the Animals" isn't looking to be a hero or a martyr for the horror genre. It's more like a fan with a voice. A really loud voice. It's speaking on behalf of everyone who has ever enjoyed a good horror movie. Since, sadly, these days, the genre has taken a turn for the worst and is fully embracing idiotic movies that fly the flag of stupidity in the name of entertainment. Or by calling itself a "homage" or a "throwback" by spending its runtime making fun of the movies that supposedly inspired it, while giving the audience members the finger for actually wasting their time watching it. Chris Wojcik and his film are demanding from the horror business what fans have been demanding for sometime now: an improvement in quality.
Actually…not really. "Rise of the Animals" is a very silly no-budget horror comedy that takes the nature-gone-bad concept and amps up the ridiculousness of it. Bad puppets, awful CGI, cheap gore, even cheaper jokes is what's on display with "Rise of the Animals". Personally, I couldn't even finish "Thankskilling" but I found "Rise of the Animals" a little more palatable. It felt a little more genuine with it's stupidity - the people behind the movie made it this way because THEY thought it was funny. Not because they thought it was a cheap and easy way to get attention or would make for easy one-note jokes. It's definitely not a movie for everybody but if you watch the trailer and think it looks good, then you'll probably like it.