Movie review: 'Primeval'
The poster for "Primeval" sells it as being "inspired by the true story of the most prolific serial killer in history." It should tack on a "kind of."

From the start, when UN workers in Africa discover mass graves and then a scientist is chomped on by a giant crocodile, the filmmakers can't make up their minds what story they are telling.

Someone in the production had the bright idea that it was possible to cross-pollinate a semiserious political drama and a skeevy horror flick about that aforementioned killer croc. Well, they don't mix.

An off-the-rack TV news crew sets out to find and capture the animal, the stuff of local legend, and soon they are picked off one by one. For long stretches, they deal with rather uninvolving local intrigues, until night falls and someone remembers, "Oh, yeah, the crocodile!"

Things aren't helped by the fact that as more of the crocodile is seen, the sillier it seems. When the croc gets up on land and its stubby little legs start pumping at lightning speed toward its next victim, the effect is more goofy than chilling. Plus, because most of the killing takes place at night, even the blood-sport thrills of flying limbs and bursting brains are largely muted.

The final kill, when the bad guy gets it, is by far the best, in no small part because one finally gets to really see something. Strangely self-serious, and without covering the prerequisites of top-shelf nastiness that contemporary horror requires, this giant crocodile movie turns out to be neither fish nor fowl.

----

'Primeval'

Rated R for strong graphic violence, brutality, terror and language. Running time: 1:34. In general release.