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 gives us an incredibly nuanced and modern twist on the classic monster movie. Heather is already a loner, with small-town gossip labeling her damaged goods based on her mother’s alcoholism. The film opens with a fantastic backstory of that scenario. One of the most intriguing aspects of the family dynamic has to be the calm acceptance of the curse but the loathsome attitude towards Heather’s sexuality. This clever dichotomy deepens our emotional investment in her happiness. MY ANIMAL transfixes with an almost slow-burn feel and the lack of gore.
Stephen McHattie, a genre legend, plays Heather’s dedicated father, Henry. He is genuinely caring, encouraging, and a brilliant addition to this film. It’s a lovely turn. Amandla Stenberg plays Jonny with a fiery energy. She has an effortlessly commanding presence. Bobbi Salvör Menuez gives Heather award-worthy vulnerability. They bring fearless intention from beginning to end. Their chemistry with Stenberg is organic, keeping the audience emotionally invested.
Augustus Muller‘s synth-heavy score serves a dual purpose in establishing the period and eliciting an ominous horror vibe. The constant presence of red gel lighting and the handheld camerawork are hypnotizing. The film has one of the most erotic and masterfully crafted love scenes. Bravo to intimacy coordinator Mimi Côté. MY ANIMAL is a slick metaphor for the isolation and ostracization of small-town LGBTQIA+ individuals. Horror elements aside, being different might feel like a curse some days. MY ANIMAL shows the power of owning one’s individuality.
MY ANIMAL is in select Theaters on September 8, 2023 and on Digital September 15, 2023.
DIRECTED BY: Jacqueline Castel
WRITTEN BY: Jae Matthews
PRODUCED BY: Andrew Bronfman, Michael Solomon
CAST: Bobbi Salvör Menuez, Amandla Stenberg, Heidi von Palleske, Cory Lipman, Charlie & Harrison Halpenny, Joe Apollonio, Scott Thompson, Dean McDermott and Stephen McHattie
SYNOPSIS: Bobbi Salvör Menuez (Euphoria) and Amandla Stenberg (Bodies Bodies Bodies) ignite in this genre-bending supernatural love story. Tormented by a hidden family curse, Heather is forced to live a secluded life on the outskirts of a small town. When she falls for the rebellious Jonny, their connection threatens to unravel Heather’s suppressed desires, tempting her to unleash the animal within.
RUN TIME: 103 minutes
RATING: R for language throughout, sexual content, nudity, some drug use and violence
GENRE: Horror, Romance
DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount Global Content Distribution