The funniest thing about “The Breed” is how every other line of dialogue in the film’s first 30 minutes revolves around how they were once young, what they were doing when they were young, etc. Meanwhile, in the back of our minds, all we can think of is: “Give me a break. You’re all in your late ’20s, one of you is in his late ’30s, and you’re pretending to play college students.” Such is casting in this day and age of derivative horror movies; no matter how hard they try to break apart from the pack, the more they are drawn back to the cliché of their genre.
“The Breed” begins the way these movies always do, with a gaggle of college “kids” on their way to a faraway party, or rave, or isolated cabin, or island. In this case, it’s a party at an isolated cabin on a remote island. (Hey, three out of four ain’t bad!) For the next 30 minutes, we are treated to the type of character development only interesting to the same group of girls that hang on every brilliant line of dialogue from shows like “One Tree Hill” or “Everwood” or whatever it is the mindless MTV kids watch these days.
In the guise of interpersonal relationships, we have: Matt (Eric Lively) and John (Oliver Hudson) are battling brothers in a tiff because Matt is currently shagging Nicki (Michelle Rodriguez), who used to be John’s girl; there is the blonde Sara (Taryn Manning, standing in for Tara Reid, California beach blonde hair, hoarse voice, and exposed skin and all); and of course, Noah (Hill Harper), aka the Token Black Guy, who does all the things his character does in these movies, namely act chauvinistic and loud and full of himself. (Thankfully, he never utters the line, “Now that’s what I’m talking about!”)
Thirty minutes later, genetically engineered dogs show up and chase them, with only one thing on their mind — food. (And yes, someone does get to say, “They were playing God!” somewhere along the way.) Well actually, it takes a while for the dogs to show up. First we have to endure more sibling rivalry between the irresponsible John (we know he’s irresponsible because he keeps saying how he’s “the irresponsible brother”) and the studious Matt (we know Matt is studious because he keeps talking about all the exams he should be taking on his way to med school). Things picked up when Sara gets bitten by a dog and starts acting weird. And then the dogs really attack, and Matt shoots Nicki in the leg with an arrow. Ouch.
If you like movies about attacking dogs ala “Cujo”, I suppose “The Breed” is pretty good. It has plenty of human flesh chomping goodness, and the dogs are quite vicious, even if they don’t look it. (I can’t help it; all dogs look cute to me, as I used to own a few when I was younger.) The stunt work in the film is quite good, and the movie’s many attack sequences are the film’s highlights. In a way you can understand why the filmmakers kept the dogs at bay for so long. After all, when the dogs finally attack and have the humans cornered, how many situations can you come up with that forces the humans to wander outside in order to be chased by the dogs? What they do come up with (getting to a car in a nearby barn, running to their seaplane) borders on ridiculous to begin with.
“The Breed”, like most horror movies, has a couple of really unintentionally funny plot holes. For one, they are trapped by dogs that, though smart, are still, well, dogs. So you would think it wouldn’t be that hard for John to pick them off one by one with his bow and arrow. Granted, the guy’s first shot at a dog missed the dog altogether and nailed Nicki in the leg, but that was from a great distance. Plus, later he shows amazing accuracy with the weapon and actually shoots a dog from a distance as it’s jumping in mid-air. And with the dogs oftentimes just standing around waiting for them, would it really have been that hard to just pick off the suckers? And I mentioned Nicki’s wounded leg, which causes her to hobble through the rest of the film, but otherwise, she seems amazingly unbothered by it, judging by all the acrobatic moves she makes. Michelle Rodriguez must be a fast healer.
The cast actually does a pretty decent job, even if their characters are obscenely derivative and stereotypical as to be condescending. Written by Robert Conte and directed by Nicholas Mastandrea, “The Breed” comes with Wes Craven’s name attached as executive producer, and if the film should ever make it to American shores, it will undoubtedly be as a direct-to-video feature. Although production values on the film seems high, and as mentioned, the action is quite well done, there is nothing outstanding or impressive about the film to warrant the cost associated with a theatrical release. Then again, Halloween is around the corner, so maybe Craven might be feeling lucky…
Nicholas Mastandrea (director) / Robert Conte, Peter Martin Wortmann (screenplay)
CAST: Michelle Rodriguez …. Nicki
Eric Lively …. Matt
Oliver Hudson …. John
Taryn Manning …. Sara
Hill Harper …. Noah