Endangered Species: Why is this Amazon Prime release such a flop?
There was widespread excitement surrounding the 2021 release of Endangered Species. Directed by M.J. Bassett, the man behind Silent Hill: Revelation & Rogue, movie fans were enchanted by the prospect of heading deep into the African plains for this adventure mystery.
Released exclusively on Amazon Prime, the reality is that Bassett’s latest work appears to have gone down like a lead balloon. The plot is based on a wealthy American family that arrange an exciting safari holiday in sun-kissed Kenya. However, what appears to be a destination that vacation dreams are made of turns out to be the stuff of nightmares.
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A one-dimensional plot that does little for the imagination
Quite literally everything that can go wrong on a safari goes wrong. En-route through the wilderness park, their safari van is turned over by an aggressive rhino. With the family injured and in desperate need of help, two family members break cover in search of rescue. A vulnerable diabetic family member’s life is in danger after venturing on the safari without their insulin. The pair that set off on foot in search of help come face-to-face with some of the fiercest foes of the wilderness park, in the shape of leopards and hyenas.
You might be wondering where the sting in the tail is. It all sounds like a relatively straightforward, adrenaline-fuelled plotline. Viewers have soundly criticized the movie and its director for lacking just that – reality. There is a sense that Endangered Species is written with good intentions at heart. The storyline attempts to shine a spotlight on the ongoing rhino poaching crisis, but the unrealistic scenarios of this plot have seen many film critics discard the movie as being too “woke” to make the desired impact.
The flaws behind M.J. Bassett’s portrayal of safari life
The film shows a blatant disregard for the dangers of the East African safari, with the safari leader bizarrely happy to take the Halsey family on an unguided tour on his own. The safari has long been a tourism pull for this corner of Africa, with the allure of the wilderness finding its way into modern-day popular culture.
In fact, Africa is now synonymous with its safari and indeed the animals that call the wilderness home. In the iGaming industry, the safari has become one of the most popular themes in slot game libraries. Mansion Casino, which is listed as one of the leading online casinos in South Africa, boasts Safari Heat on the list of its most-played titles. The Xbox 360 released Cabela’s African Safari, which also proved to have a cult following. Players embarked on open safaris, as well as missions for herd hunting, game tracking, and baiting.
Elsewhere in popular culture, African safaris formed the basis of some of Ernest Hemingway’s most successful short stories including ‘The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber’. Ernie Barbarash’s Holiday in the Wild, released on the big screen in 2019, is another movie that sought to emphasize the importance of animal sanctuaries in rearing and protecting elephants from human poachers.
As for Endangered Species’ portrayal of safari life, it’s a shame that the outlandish and predictable plot damages the underlying message that M.J. Bassett was attempting to achieve.