IN THE SHADOW OF KILIMANJARO (1986)
Article 3957 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Raju Patel
Featuring John Rhys-Davies, Timothy Bottoms, Irene Miracle
Country: UK / Kenya
What it is: Nature runs amok
A drought causes large groups of baboons to go on a rampage of destruction and killing.
When I first heard about this movie, I thought the very idea of making baboons the menace to be pretty silly. I realize now that this was because I was reacting to the metaphorical use of the word “baboon” as a derogatory term; from what I gather, they can truly be very dangerous beasts. I think the movie does a decent job of establishing them as something to be feared, so the preconception doesn’t do a whole lot of damage. There are also some effective shots of hoards of baboons about to go on the attack, with the scene where a man is trying to change a tire while this happens being the most memorable. However, that doesn’t mean the movie is effective; a weak script, uninspired direction and bad editing all conspire to take the suspense and excitement out of movie; it ends up feeling awkward and clumsy rather than scary. Yet I think it’s biggest problems are ones brought on by failing to use the environment effectively. The areas of Kenya where the movie takes place could have been filmed to heighten the sense of fear and isolation, but the photography fails to catch any of that. And this is one of those movies that would have benefited from the use of silent and ambient sound to increase the tension; the use of a symphonic score throughout just makes the movie feel overbearing, especially when it tries to heighten the suspense in scenes where there is no reason to do so. In the final analysis, the movie fails to hit the mark.