September 10, 2011

Queer Review: Feed (2005)

Director: Brett Leonard
Writer: Kieran Galvin
Cast: Alex O'Loughlin, Patrick Thompson, Gabby Millgate, Jack Thompson, Rose Ashton, Matthew Le Nevez, David Field, Sherly Sulaiman

A bad horror exploitation flick, Feed heads deep into Cruising territory, even as it attempts to offer up some confusing social commentary. All in all, horrible modern filmmaking techniques, such as rapid fire editing, and a story that throws every cliché, trope, and stereotype into the mix, come together to create a truly unappetising milieu.

After solving a strange case involving cannibalism, that was apparently inspired by Armin Meiwes, an Australian Interpol police officer, Phillip Jackson (Patrick Thompson) finds himself emotionally shaken. His next case - which involves a man, Michael Carter (Alex O'Loughlin), who feeds women until they die from obesity - takes bizarreness to whole new levels. As the increasingly mentally unstable Phillip engages in a dangerous cat and mouse game with Michael, the latest victim, Deidre (Gabby Millgate), inches ever closer to death.

The Queering
On pretty much any level imaginable Feed is a truely repulsive movie. It has pretty much only two saving graces. One is the intense performances of Phillip Jackson and Alex O'Loughlin. O'Loughlin is particularly brilliant as the sociopath who taunts the increasingly unhinged Phillip. Thompson is less controlled, but no less memorable as Michael's chauvinistic foil. The second saving grace of Feed is the potential post-screening discussions that will likely happen.

No, this is not a particularly deep or insightful motion picture but it tries so hard to be one, that the pretentiousness oozes more freely the chocolate syrup and lard that the evil Michael force feeds into Deidre. Much of the over done dialogue includes phrases like "consumption is evolution" and there are multiple references to Christian iconography. At one point, Phillip interrupts Michael's wife while she was receiving communion and Michael briefly takes up the crucifix position when it appears Michael has the upper hand. What exactly is the point of that, I don't really get. To draw a comparison between Jesus's sacrifice, symbolised by the bread and wine/grape juice that is fed to people at communion and the way Michael feeds his victims?

The problem of course, is that no one involved really demonstrates a deeper understanding of Christian mythos, as evidenced by the end. Therefore, Feed's attempts at drawing deeper parallels with the story of Christ fall as flat as it's knowledge of pop psychology. Note to whoever developed the idea; it really is not all that new or revolutionary to have your lead Psycho killer be motivated by a bizarre Oedipus complex.

By far, the strongest element of Feed is the battle of minds that occurs between Michael and Phillip, mainly due to the ethical ambiguity of their positions. While Michael is clearly evil, the way Phillip treats his bisexual girlfriend, along with his habit of breaking and entering, denies the officer the clear moral high ground. There's also a strong queer subtext in the relationship between Philip and Michael. Usually, I find homoerotic subtexts like this to be interesting or delightful, though in this case the preferred adjectives would be disturbing and extremely creepy.

At the end of the day, Feed is too muddled in it's thematic context and many scenes are deliberately stomach turning. Add to that the choppy, rapid editing and you have one movie that should not be fed to anyone.

Excepting those individuals in the target audience, namely hardcore horror fans, anyone who dines on Feed risks the cinematic equivalent of food poisoning.

The Rating


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