Directed by: Hank Braxton
Starring: James Remar, Sherilyn Fenn, Ron Carlson, Graham Greene, Allegra Carpenter, Ray Wise
Fashion photographer Brooking travels with his assistant and models to Alaska in order to do a fashion shoot during the winter season, and they stay with local wildlife expert Martin Nakos. However, unbeknownst to all, there is a nearby research facility owned by Clobirch Pharmaceuticals where chief researcher Dr Hannah Lindval is breeding a wolf/polar bear hybrid, which promptly escapes…
Maneater (released in the USA as Unnatural) is a pretty good, modestly budgeted creature feature which wins points for using practical fx for the most part, even if this means keep it’s creature under wraps for as long as possible.
The early scenes are a mixed bag. The arrival of the fashion crew and the bemusement of the locals is quite amusing, but the scenes at the Clobirch lab (especially the CCTV footage) are a bit drab and devoid of tension.
Luckily the dialogue and performances in the lodge scenes work better. Brooking is completely culturally insensitive, while Martin and his colleagues allow his ignorance to just wash over them. Brooking has a put-upon assistant who he constantly yells at, and is dating one of his two models.
Sherilyn Fenn has been so far off the radar since the early ‘90s that her appearance here only prompted a vague warm feeling of familiarity – naturally she’s a lot older than I remember her! Her character is quite interesting – she’s dependent on Martin et al helping her survive but at the same time, she’s a Company woman and deliberately witholds information which could save them.
Not many of the characters are particularly fleshed out, and are basically there to be fresh meat for the killer bear. The attacks are pretty well done on the whole, the stand outs being an attack from under the ice and one poor character literally being eaten alive (an actual trait of polar bears, apparently!).
Despite a UK DVD cover which does its best to repel people away from it, this is a decent, fun creature feature. Nothing outstanding but well-made with a unique setting and creature prowling around picking off the cast. It also features a great bit of telegraphing for its big climax.