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Dinosaur Project, The (AF)


Stars: Richard Dillane, Peter Brooke, Matt Kane, Natasha Loring, Stephen Jennings, Andre Weidman, Abena Ayivor, Sivu Nobongoza

Director: Sid Bennett

On the evidence of co-writer (with Jay Basu)-director Bennett’s cut price B feature ‘Lost World’ riff, the Andrews Sisters and Danny Kaye got it completely wrong in 1947 when they sang:

“So bongo, bongo, bongo, I don't wanna leave the Congo, oh no no no no no, Bingo, bangle, bungle, I'm so happy in the jungle, I refuse to go”.

But when explorer Dillane and his expedition go off in search of the prehistoric water creature he describes, a tad risibly (in line with quite a lot of the dialogue), as “The African Loch Ness Monster but much more plausible” they discover a Congo far removed from the Andrews/Kaye version. (To be fair, it’s not really the Congo, which is actually played – possibly the best performance in the picture – by South Africa.

Much of the found footage which comprises the film is the result of Dillane’s stroppy 15-year-old gadget freak son Kane who stows away to join his dad’s expedition and ends up placing mini-cameras everywhere to record the action featured on the hard drives that are the only evidence of what happened to the expedition whose helicopter is brought down in the middle of the jungle by massive pterodactyl-like flying creatures. The luckless expedition members are then faced with the terrifying task of staying alive in a strange land infested with bizarre prehistoric beasts…

The overrated chiller ‘The Blair Witch Project’ has a lot to answer for, especially for having established the now somewhat overused ‘found footage’ approach of using POV recording as a narrative device in, notably, ‘Cloverfield’ and less memorably in various horror movies as well as the truly ridiculous ‘Apollo 18’.

The best thing on the screen are the special effects-created creatures which easily upstage the human cast who bravely react to everything Bennett throws at them but are often brought down by leaden dialogue and seen-it-all-before situations. (it hardly helps, either, that ‘Congolese’ liaison-guide Ayivor, has an all-too obvious South African accent.

To be fair, it’s not terrible, simply over-familiar. That said, it really belongs on the small screen as opposition to, say, such television programmes like ‘Primeval’.

Alan Frank

South Afica 2011. UK Distributor: StudioCanal. Colour.
84 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 0.

Review date: 07 Aug 2012