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Thursday, 24 March 2016

DVD Review: Eat

Welcome Back,

The theme of cannibalism has been used in the horror genre for many, many years now. The first use of the term "cannibals" in film history, seems to have been from the 1930's TARZAN films of all places, and not George A Romero's classic 1968 nastie NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD as you'd expect! But, it was Romero's classic that brought the "cannibal" to the attention of most filmgoers. Flesh-eaters and flesh-eating is neither new or original thematically-speaking. With seminal gut-munchers such as CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (1979, Ruggero Deodato), through to last year's "remake" (and I use that in the loosest definition of the term humanly possible) by Eli Roth in GREEN INFERNO (see what he did there, folks?), the cannibal has never been far from the heart of the horror movie.

And so, today, we come to a film, that actually attempts something a little more unusual. EAT (2015, Jimmy Weber) is a super-low-budget indie horror flick, that's come to my attention, whilst browsing in my local HMV store's horror film section - a section I might add, that is now extremely large, which I am pleased to see. (Clearly, there's life in the horror genre yet!)

EAT follows a young woman's startling descent into madness, struggling literally and figuratively with coming to terms with who (or what) she is. A down-at-the-heels, wannabe Hollywood actress, pushed to breaking point, with constant rejections from the film industry only interested in looking for the next porn-starlet, we watch her spiralling meltdown and her life as it slowly, and gruesomely starts to unravel.

The film stars Meggie Maddock, a woman I've never heard of until now, but whom seems to be most famous for starring in the 2009 TV series CRASH and the 2011 TV series FLOCK - also a show I've not heard of. Ms Maddock plays the titular role, the fascinatingly-named Novella McClure. As we watch her fail at auditions, and get deeper and deepeer into debt with her busybody landlady (Maru Garcia), we start to see her mental, and then physical decline - with some spectacularly sick effects!

Initially, the film starts-off as another in a long line of Indie horror films trying to be maddeningly hip and "youth-oriented" and failing badly, with its pretentious dialogue, but if you can overlook this, you end-up with a film that tries to do something a little different, albeit one that ultimately fails! In its short 90-minute run-time, you need to be a rather discriminating horror fan, willing to overlook a lot of problems. The dialogue, as I just mentioned, is ofter diabolically poor, and with the film being written and directed by relative-newbie Jimmy Weber, it's difficult to tolerate. It tries to be smart, zingy and down-with-the-kids, but comes across as deeply vain and pretentious, which is a shame. That said, if you give the film some leniency, it turns out pretty good overall. Yes, the acting is also quite poor, but I'm willing to forgive a film that at least attempts something new, even if it doesn't quite reach Oscar-worthy heights. There's nothing wrong with trying and failing! It's a darn sight better than simply ripping-off and/or duplicating the work of others, as all horror fans know only too well, from the seemingly never-ending litany of remakes, recycles, reboots and reimaginings that continue to pollute and destroy the genre a little bit more, every day.

What we get, is a graphic little film, that entices you just enough to stick with it, and then hits you at key moments with some very, very graphic (if occasionally a little too rubbery) special effects. The title of the film should give you an idea of what you are in for, but this is not a film that deals with cannibals or cannibalism in the normal, genre sense of the word. For here, it's not the monsterous "other", that the characters have to fend off, e.g. cannibalistic monsters or creatures. The "other" is the beast that lies within all of us. It is outself!

Surprisingly, the film has been passed uncut, at the hallowed halls of the BBFC, and I was quite shocked considering the content! James Ferman would have had kittens, if he'd ever sat through this one!

Although the film's gore is not extensive, the three or four moments it does occur in, it does so in a way that will genuinely surprise and shock you, which for any horror film, is always nice to experience! Even for hardened gorehounds such as myself, and I've sat through stuff that most people wouldn't want to touch with a barge-pole, this still made me gag a couple of times, and briefly turn-away! Now, if that's not a recommendation, I'm not sure what is. (The sex scene, roughly an hour-in, is definitely one that will astonish you, for all the wrong reasons! Be warned, it's wonderfully tasteless!)

That said, you do need to be in a very forgiving mood. However, I do genuinely believe that the film's few quality's redeem it, over its many faults. It's not perfect, by any means, and I could easily have slagged this film off with great ease, if I'd wanted too. The plot is middling, but just about saves itself in the final act. The acting and dialogue are really, really poor, and I really wish the filmmakers had been able to secure one or two bigger name cast members, as per a film I reviewed around three year's ago, called EXCISION - as shown  here  as I think it would have improved the film a lot. But underneath the film's substantial flaws, there's something grubbily unique that's worth scraping through all the muck to get at, and inspect. You'll certainly not going to forget this film, that's for sure.

Alas, the UK DVD release is fairly low-key. The picture quality is excellent, for a DVD print, and with the bit-rate often reaching 7mb, it looks very clean, and sharp all the way through. One of the best-looking DVD's I've seen in a long time. It does, however, mean that some of the FX are prone to looking a little rubbery, which is a real shame. The sound comes with Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0 Stereo soundtracks, plus an additional, full-length Stereo audio-commentary, for those who like to listen to such things. (I didn't have time to listen to this, unfortunately.) Extras-wise, you get the commentary, and four trailers, including one for the film itself. As the film is now available online for about £6, I am willing to overlook the minimal extras. I'd have liked to have seen interviews with the cast and crew, but maybe the commentary will key viewers in.

Ultimately, if you are a very magnanimous individual, then this film is worth getting, because I genuinely did think that the pluses outweigh the negatives. However, I know for many, the film's flaws will be way too numerate, and these people will probably prefer to try and aquire the film as cheaply as possible, or rent it instead. Still, it's an interesting failure. Not brilliant, not completely awful, and worth your time, if you're willing.

Thanks for continuing to read my work! I'll be back soon, with more film reviews, and commentary.

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