Terror Films will be releasing a new Horror film every Friday in October on Amazon Prime for their ‘Freaky Fridays’ promotion. Friday, October 5th saw Rowdy Roddy Piper (They Live 1988) in his last on-screen appearance in The Chair. This is while on Friday, October 12th, there will be a re-release of Furry Nights.
Originally released by Writer/Director J. Zachary Thurman (35mm 2015, Love in 500 Characters 2017) in 2016, Terror Films and Cyfuno Ventures will be introducing it to various VOD platforms. What is it about? Is it a throwback to 1982’s Gremlins or 1986’s Critters where the Furries are little creatures that run amok? Or perhaps they are real animals causing trouble?
No, they are literal furries. As in people who dress up in animal costumes for fun and more. A group of teens go camping in the woods to shoot their own cheap Horror film. Whilst there, they come across a gang of furries, led by Mr Fox (‘as himself’). One of the teens (Keith Dowsett) mistakes someone in a bear costume for a real one and shoots them. Mr Fox does not like this one bit and launches a full-out assault on the teens to get revenge. Will the teens survive? Or are they done for?
Well, it is not like people have not put on animal costumes or masks in Horror before, but there are few that go for making them actual furries. In fact, this film is the first one to turn up when searching for ‘Horror films about furries’ on Google. Beyond that, it is either the 2016 Documentary Fursonas or the guy in the dog costume in 1980’s The Shining. More eagle-eyed netizens are likely to find a wider display on offer. Though, if Furry Nights is a pioneer in furry fury horror, how good is its first step? Does it run/hop/gallop off to a good start? Or should it hang up its fur suit in shame?
It is on the shorter end of feature-length flicks, running just over 1 hour and 11 minutes. It takes a pseudo-Blair Witch approach, in that it is shot partly through the teens’ camera and partly through the film’s camera. Part diegetic, part non-diegetic, so to speak. It works out rather well for a low-budget indie Horror flick too. There are some nice shots and angles on display too, notably an outsider’s-eye view of one of the furries in a cabin.
The editing could have been better though, as there are some sequences that do not flow so well. Like an actor’s eyeline not quite being on level with what they are supposed to be seeing. Or the teens noticing something, saying what it is, reacting, and then cutting to the something and what it is doing. It seems like it is teasing its threat, but if that was the case, outright stating what it is kind of dilutes the effect.
The acting is a mixed bag of quality. The cast do better when they are talking and playing about. Playing scared tests their limits, particularly when they have to work with some clunky lines. Yet, it works out better than some of its budget Horror rivals when taken overall. Though the best delivery comes more from the sound design than the lines. The sound mixing is not that great. However, the way the film builds up to its scares with the furries’ woodland chattering works out well on screen. It is an effective, if familiar, technique.
Though this might be the big bugbear for more experienced Horror fans. The teens-in-woodland-trouble sub-genre is well-trodden ground. The scenes and scares are likely to come off as familiar than freaky. There is little character-building beyond the synopsis, so there is little meat to the story. It just is what it is; victims far from home served up to a threat. Only the threat consists of people in animal costumes than mutated freaks or masked killers. The film shakes things up by throwing in some dark humor here and there – like why calling 911 does not help the gang. It makes the film more uneven as it swings between silly and scary, but it does make it more entertaining too.
This sums up Furry Nights altogether as well. It has some fine camerawork, sound design, and lighting going on. Yet, its acting and editing range from coarse to fine. The scares are standard, and capable of some chills. Though, its silly scenes are more likely to stick in the audience’s heads than the brutal ones. People expecting something more serious, either in premise or fear factor, are not going to find much here. Though if one is looking for some dumb fun, Furry Nights could make a good starter. So, by tallying up its pro’s, cons, and appeal, CrypticRock gives Furry Nights 3 out of 5 stars.