Phantom Sway

With a Bigger Budget, ‘Fang’ Might Not Have Been Such a Dog

This Canadian creature feature looks nice but it lacks bite.

There’s a beauty to the new way we watch television. On-demand streaming  lets you catch up on shows you missed the first time around and watch new original content that probably never would have made it onto network TV. The best part though is that sometimes you come across a fantastic hidden gem of a movie. This post is not about one of those movies.

This post is about a Canadian fantasy/horror/suspense movie called Fang that is available to stream from Amazon Prime. It’s not an unwatchable movie by any means. Shot in Alberta in some very beautiful, natural settings, the movie is very visually pleasing. That appears to be where all the money went.

I couldn’t find much information about it online until I discovered that it was released first under the title Prairie Dog in 2015. (Neither title really seems applicable to the movie, though there is a lot of prairie involved.) Once I found Prairie Dog in IMDB I saw that the movie was made for less than $50,000 (around $60,000 Canadian). That made its flaws seem a lot more forgivable.

A lone sheriff of the vast lands and valleys of Brada County is confronted with a dual mystery. A pair of sociopathic criminals being chased across the plains have disappeared, and reports keep surfacing of a large, shadowed animal roaming the farmlands of the county. With the assistance of an environmental consultant and the mayor of the nearby town of Sombra Hollow, the sheriff races to find the connection between the mysteries that haunt the valleys of Brada County.

There are no actors in this movie that you will recognize. For most, it is their only acting credit listed at IMDB. It shows.

The script isn’t all that great either. The dialogue comes across as unnatural in a lot of places. There was an attempt made to have a romantic subplot between the Sheriff and the environmental consultant. It was really awkward, but not in a fun, endearing way…in a please just stop sort of way. Probably the best actor in the movie is Ashlin Malik who plays the sheriff’s young daughter, but the script does her no favors either. She’s adorable on camera though.

Maybe it all ended up on the cutting room floor but the movie makes no attempt to explain what the hell is going on. Monsters are attacking people, people are disappearing and returning as feral, zombie-like creatures, but no attempt is made to tell the viewer why any of this is happening. The primary monster looks like a cross between a giant guinea pig and a bison, but with a ferocious set of canines (hence Fang, I suppose). There is also a creature that can only be described as Kermit the Frog under the influence of PCP.

I was all set to write a really snarky review of this movie until I saw the price tag. There are probably a few tweaks that could have been made without increasing the price that could have made it a decent creature feature fit for the Syfy channel. With a bigger budget it might even have been really good.

I have an inkling of what the story behind the monsters might really be but I won’t speculate and spoil things for the two of you who might go watch it. I will say that there needs to be an element of discovery in a good monster flick. The characters need to be curious about solving a mystery as well as just surviving. The former should be a key factor in the latter.

But If your movie is about a giant carnivorous rodent-esque monster, with different kinds of auxiliary monsters as well as transformed humans, at some point you really have to tell your audience what’s going on.

Phantom Jim

Jim is a science fiction nerd, writer, blogger, music lover, artist, graphic designer, native of the east coast, and graduate of Virginia Tech.