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MY ANIMAL (2023)

Release Date: 09/08/23 [VOD
Genre: Horror. Romance.

Studio: XYZ Films.

[Seen at Sundance Film Festival '23

"Heather, an outcast teenage goalie, falls for newcomer Jonny, an alluring but tormented figure skater. As their relationship deepens, Heather's growing desires clash with her darkest secret, forcing her to control the animal within." 


Jacqueline Castel’s My Animal is at its core, a story about a woman coming to terms with her sexuality, all the while rationalizing her existence as a werewolf. The film is incredibly artistic in its approach to the supernatural and has the nature of the beast hidden from view, while the crush takes center stage. While I admire the ideas within the feature, the final execution leaves a lot to be desired, especially as the film drifts further from a supernatural tale and instead into a family drama. 


The chemistry between leads, Bobbi Salvör Menuez and Amandla Stenberg, guides My Animal through the rough patches and while the relationship isn’t entirely fleshed out between the two love interests. The film lets you understand the message behind its visuals, with intimate facial shots making the most of the scenes when romance is occurring, with some lust-fueled dreams having the best direction of the entire picture - indicating just how attached the two are. The cinematography is breathtaking with its simplistic, frost covered visuals and while the film is shot with a low budget glow around the entire production. 


The entire cast is a layered example of having too many personalities at play. With certain characters, they are introduced only to be shown minimally only to have little care by the film’s close when certain characters are in harm's way. My Animal is an attempt at creating a beautiful film with a low budget aesthetic that isn’t about the creature within but the person you reflect yourself as on the outside - it’s a wonderful idea, just sometimes Jae Matthews’ screenplay and Castel’s direction fail to elevate each other - ultimately ending with a haphazardly constructed piece of cinema. 

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