Hank runs a nature reserve to study large cats in Africa, but the other land owners don’t like having a concentration of large predators so close by. On the same day Hank’s family flies to join him, he has a run-in with a council of neighbors who want the cats removed, and two men are injured by the overzealous animals. A comedy of errors follows Hank as he attempts to meet up with his family who eventually finds their own way to his house. Unfortunately the family arrives while Hank is away, and between the family’s lack of experience with the animals and the animals’ intention to display their place in the hierarchy, Hank’s family are beset upon by a large pack of lions, tigers, cheetahs and panthers.
Roar has been referred to as the most dangerous film ever made, and watching it backs up that claim. The action in this film is all real and the actors are truly grappling with real animals; even the film’s promotion boasts that 70 members of the cast and crew were injured by the animals during the shooting of the film. Credit must be given to the cast and crew and especially to director and star Noel Marshall who somehow convinced people to take part in this project. In many scenes it is obvious that the animals are not trying to attack the actors, but just acting playfully dominant. However, playful or not, these are still animals that weigh hundreds of pounds and have sharp teeth and claws.
The technical aspects of Roar come off as a little raw, but any shortcomings are understandable given the shooting conditions. Actors sometimes break character, some shots end abruptly, and some are edited in an uneven pace. This all is most likely due to the unpredictability of the animals co-starring in the movie. Other than these understandable issues, Roar looks amazing — and so it should being shot by Jan de Bont. It is compelling in its simplicity of story; a complicated plot wouldn’t have worked in this situation. I find it hard to comprehend how a film can be cute and endearing while simultaneously being disturbing and dangerous. If you missed Roar in its all-too-brief theatrical run, check it out on VOD as soon as you can.
Roar (1981); Dir: Noel Marshall; Starring: Noel Marshall, Tippi Hedren, Melanie Griffith