Anacondas: Trail of Blood

This might be the first Anaconda movie where people kill more individuals than the anacondas do. I wasn’t keeping track, but I think it might be possible. The anacondas — there are two this time around, for reasons I’ll get to later — are actually more of a background presence. They are barely important to the plot, and are included for two reasons: (1) this is an Anaconda movie so they have to be here and (2) they get people to run from location to location with urgency so that the plot can progress.

There are two returning characters from the last film, although you’d be forgiven for trying to wipe its existence from your memory. The lead is Amanda (Crystal Allen), who was also the only really important character the last time around. She helped create this new breed of giant snakes, all with funds by a sick billionaire (John Rhys-Davies) who wants to use the serum used to create the giant snakes to cure his bone cancer. So, Amanda now wants to destroy everything because she’s realized it’s wrong and dangerous, and he wants to live. Hero and villain have been established.

They don’t ever get to fight, which is too bad. The Rhys-Davies character hires some hitmen to find the serum — which for some reason was being created in the woods in a secluded place, and the one person tasked with doing it has vanished — and if they happen to see Amanda, they’re to kill her, too. She’s also looking for the cabin, but to blow it up. The snakes escape and are in the woods, and just for good measure, we have a team of people who are also there, although I can’t remember an exact reason. A holiday, perhaps? I’m not sure.

The first problem of Trail of Blood is that there are just too many characters and absolutely no dedication or time given to any of them. Am I supposed to know or even care about these people? I can’t even remember their names. And it’s not like there here just to be fodder for the snakes, either, as most of them die at the hands of another human. There is no need for all of them, either, as you could remove at least half of these characters without a single negative repercussion.

Anacondas: Trail of Blood was shot back-to-back with Offspring, the third installment. As a result, any feedback that the filmmakers could have received from the absolute disaster that was Anacondas 3 wouldn’t be able to have an impact on this film. I don’t know if anyone in the project cares, because it’s a cheap movie that’s made in hopes that it might just make enough money to be a success, but these films shot back-to-back are so often a failure for the reason that there’s no chance to absorb feedback if the first one is a failure.

Perhaps they did realize that their special effects budget was too low to actually render even semi-realistic looking snakes. That was one of the bigger problems with Offspring, despite the filmmakers giving us close-ups of the anacondas at seemingly every point they could. This time, we barely even see the snakes. It’s barely an Anaconda movie. The most fun of the first two films was seeing these giant creatures kill people in creative ways. Here, we’re lucky if they get to eat one or two individuals.

This one also makes sense, which automatically makes it a touch better than its predecessor. Its story isn’t really good or even purposeful, but at least it isn’t overly convoluted despite being a walking cliché. It might be asking too much for an Anaconda film to have a good story anyway, but at least I could follow along this time. Well, for the most part. It’s not completely solid and I still didn’t understand that many character decisions — they have no time to develop or explain themselves — but the overarching plot was decent.

It’s sad to see someone like John Rhys-Davies in this movie. He has a small role, sure, but just having his name associated with it can’t be doing him any favors. Crystal Allen doesn’t have a terribly good career to begin with outside of TV work, but being the lead in the fourth Anaconda movie isn’t going to be something one wants on a résumé. And it’s not even like they’re the stars who can be good regardless of the film around them; they’re just as bad as all of the actors you’ve never heard of in the supporting roles.

I hope this is the last Anaconda film. When your series reaches the point where it’s premiering on the Sci Fi channel, and it has a budget that is probably lower than that of a Superbowl commercial, it’s time to give it up. We don’t need any more movies in this franchise. The last two have been so bad, and the first two weren’t exactly masterpieces to begin with. Can we just put it to rest and hope that people forget about it?

Anacondas: Trail of Blood is a marginal improvement over its predecessor, although that’s not saying much of anything, as almost anything would have been better than that. The special effects are still awful, the acting is wooden, the entire production is dull, and this time around, the anacondas barely even factor in. The only reason it’s better is because you can follow along from start to finish without becoming too confused. To be clear, that’s not an endorsement of the film.

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