Maneater (DVD)

Maneater (DVD)
Updated: 01-07-2008

When a badged and beleaguered Gary Busey goes postal on you, you listen. It's enough to scare the stripes off a tiger when the crag-faced actor goes from quiet to crazed in 3 seconds.


He's Sherriff Grady Barnes, the lawman who refuses to wear a uniform but still has his tin star pinned to his bust at all times (had the production been able to afford interior night shots, I suspect we would have seen it fastened to his PJs). The manic man is pissed because his pastorial parrish is invaded by a marauding big Bengal who's got a taste for human blood and uncanny skills in subterfuge.


ThisTV movie is family friendly — we see no grisly deaths occur onscreen, but thankfully the tiger is real and there's no CGI — which gives it both its appeal and its lack of allure. Maneater is a good "scary movie" choice for kids (and there is a strong child character, played ably by Ty Wood), but it's not quite cheesy or quirky enough to charm to the adult viewer.


The story has all your stereotypes: stupid circus trainer; bible-thumping naysayer; the great white hunter; small-minded mayor; pinheaded press; wise Indian sage; military sorts, and so on. But none of them are carried to the extreme, so they're just plain boring as the bloodless story drags on to its inevitable (and corny) conclusion.


Technically, the shot-on-DV movie looks beautiful. Cinematographer Peter Benison definitely knows his frames and angles, while making the most of the limited locations and well-thought out, dense set design. The colors are crisp, and the definition is razor sharp while still remaining flattering enough to the actors' faces. The music is unremarkable, but then again it doesn't infringe.


When all is said and done, Maneater is a decent timewaster but definitely not worth adding to your 'when-animals-attack' library.


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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson

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