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Review: 'Hundreds of Beavers'

Edited by GreenReaper
Your rating: None Average: 2.5 (2 votes)

'Hundreds of Beavers' poster "I don't get the joke. Is it dirty, or what?"
-Gerald Ford, 38th President of the United States of America (attributed)

You guys remember Bitter Lake?

Way back in the before times, when dinosaurs roamed the land, there was a tiny, micro-budget, barely feature-length "fan-movie" known as Bitter Lake, featuring a cast entirely clad in fursuit to represent its anthropomorphic animal characters, made by furries, for furries.

Before Bitter Lake, I'd never considered this method to realize a furry movie, and after Bitter Lake, well, I still haven't. Noble experiment, sure. Quality movie? Well, we're not reviewing Bitter Lake now, so let's just move along…

Hundreds of Beavers is a sort of outside the fandom take on the "fursuit movie" that, after playing film festivals last year, had a very short theatrical release this year before launching on various streaming services. It is a black-and-white, mostly dialogue-free slapstick comedy featuring newbie fur trapper Jean Kayak (co-writer Ryland Brickson Cole Tews) as he struggles to survive in the wilderness around the Great Lakes region of pre-United States America. Fellow co-writer Mike Cheslik directs. The movie features beavers, raccoons, rabbits, dogs, skunks and wolves, all played by actors in mascot costumes.

The movie opens with Jean, successful apple farmer and applejack brewer who is his own best customer (haven't we all been into Applejack a bit too much in our pasts?). After one binge drinking session, he drunkenly burns his entire operation, orchard and all, to the ground; unbeknownst to him, beavers are partially responsible for reasons that don't become clear until much later. He finds himself alone in the wintry forests of the Great North, with minimal survival skills. Eventually he runs into a trading outpost, run by the Merchant (Doug Mancheski), and falls in love with his daughter (Olivia Graves). To make a living, and impress the Merchant enough to propose to his daughter, he becomes a trapper.

Jean comes under the tutelage of an experienced trapper (Wes Tank), succeeding him after a fatal encounter with a pack of wolves, who also steal a bundle of hundreds of beaver pelts. The movie follows Kayak's misadventures as he slowly hones his skills, with the goal of eventually avenging his teacher and stealing the bundle back from the wolves in order to impress the Merchant enough to become his son in law. Meanwhile, the beavers – predictably – are busy with their own plans.

From that description, it may be unclear if the animals, even if represented by people in mascot costumes, are anthropomorphic or not. The best answer to that question is 'yes'. The movie treats the animals as animals that our hero violently kills by the hundreds, but also as people with their own reactions and stories going on in the background. It comes very close to making a point about animal cruelty, with the beavers at one point literally putting Jean on trial for murder, but ultimately it feels like a very funny sick joke most of the time – even if it does, as they say, make one think.

The suits themselves are low budget affairs, looking like off-the-rack costume store finds. If you saw someone wearing them at a furry convention, you'd immediately assume they were rented by curious outsiders who thought the costumes would help them blend in, but only make them stand out even more (and also be guilty of snobbery, by the way). Of course, the cheap look is part of the gag. Seeing these silly costumes out in the literal wild is funny in and of itself; the actors are frequently seen tripping and falling in scenes while running, the film makers apparently leaving these outtakes in on the (completely correct) assumption that it's funny.

The whole thing looks remarkably cheap, both as an aesthetic choice, and also because it was made remarkably cheaply. It leans into its limitations, and uses them for comedic effect. The movie runs on cartoon logic; and though, on the whole, I'd still prefer an actual cartoon most of the time, this is probably the best case scenario for a "fursuit movie". The movie made me laugh a lot, which is what a comedy is supposed to do.


Your rating: None

Jfc, Google really has gone downhill. I couldn't find my own review of Bitter Lake; I had to switch to a different search engine.

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Not an Https site?

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It has an expired, self-signed certificate. Need to get Let's Encrypt/certbot on the job!

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