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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Hunger
Other // Unrated // September 28, 2010
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Bill Gibron | posted August 8, 2010 | E-mail the Author
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The Product:
All zombie flesh-feasting aside, cannibalism is hardly ever dealt with in a horror film. Sure, we get the serial killer sickness suggested in the eating of people, but rarely does a movie do its damnedest to illustrate the taboo-busting nastiness of humans resorting to such a mastication abomination in full blown blood red realism. Perhaps only Alive came closest to addressing the issue with some semblance of seriousness, even though it avoided most of the more reprehensible details. Sadly, the same can be said for proposed splatter epic Hunger. Not to be confused with the brilliant Bobby Sands/IRA hunger strike drama by British director Steve McQueen, this lax, lamentably irritating exercise in fright flick endurance wants to mesh Saw with the Sawyer family to see how far five trapped individuals will go to survive. By the time they reach that conclusion, we no longer care and wish all of them would die from malnutrition - or at the very least, the same boredom being experienced by we the viewers.

The Plot:
Five people wake up in a dungeon-like setting. They are former contractor Grant, disgraced surgeon Jordan, frightened femme fatale Maggie, reckless bad boy Luke, and loner Alex. Initially, they are scared and disoriented, believing the others are responsible for their current predicament. Eventually, they learn that they are being held captive by someone intent on observing their increasingly erratic behavior. There is a clock on the wall ticking down the days. There are massive oil drums filled with water, and a place set aside as a bathroom. The only thing missing - food. Jordan explains that the body cannot live without nourishment for more than a month. As the quintet count the hours, their hunger rises. Soon, a scalpel is introduced into the mix - a knife specifically designed to carve through human flesh and muscle.

The DVD:
Imagine a movie where only one character is barely likeable, another is hardly explained, the other four are fighting for the honor of most god-awful aggravating, and the plot premise is avoided at all costs. If you add in a murky, Darren Lynn Bousman by way of a lens cap concept toward cinematography, you'd have Hunger in a mind-numbing, butt aching nutshell. No direct to DVD horror film should clock in at close to two hours. No one has that much terror to talk about. Unfortunately, this movie is all speechifying and no splatter. We want to see blood. We want to see guts. We want to see people consuming same. Instead, there are a couple of Romero-esque group grunts, actors with lots of bright red Kayro painted across their wardrobe, and a single shot of skin being sliced from an arm - and that's it. That's friggin' it! It's the worst kind of bait and switch. Endless scenes of quasi-character development and narrative misdirection, all in service of keeping the long pig buffet an anticipated pay-off. Sadly, we get more suggestion than sluice.

Of course, if Steve Hentges were a better director we might not care. More importantly, if his cast weren't so exasperating, we'd definitely wait for such a pitfall denouement. Instead, we have someone like Joe Egender who turns Luke into the kind of crybaby bad-ass that explains justifiable homicide as both a literal and figurative alternative to his weepy existence. When he isn't chewing the fake rock wall scenery with chicklet abandon, he's acting like any prickly plot cog would - trying to steal the scalpel, undermining the "authority" of those in charge, eating Alex's pet cockroaches. He cries out to be killed over and over again, and then to have his ravaged corpse dug up and defiled a few hundred more times. Perhaps it's the sign of a great performance that Luke and Egender are so knuckle-bustingly intolerable, but it doesn't make Hunger any more enjoyable - and when you add in the meek manipulation of cellar slut Maggie, the more noble than knowledgeable Grant, and the normal to nutjob transition of the aforementioned bug keeper, there is nary a party to root for. Even Jordan, who's holier than thou in a vaguely unobjectionable manner doesn't deserve our support. She does little to earn it, want it, or require it.

And then there is the man behind all the mayhem (No, not Hentges, or first time scripter L. D. Goffigan). With his striking red hair and "think with your dipstick, Jimmy" commercial appeal (didn't think we'd recognize you, right Bjorn Johnson???), the high tech tool who sits behind his monitors and stage-manages the action is a villainous non-entity. By the fifth flashback to his accident as a child and the ensuing struggle to survive, we get it - he ate flesh as a youth, and he wants to understand what drives someone to do that. So he then devises a bizarre criminal enterprise involving a bunch of strangers and a sequestering inside a hidden cavern??? Makes sense. Actually, very little here does. There is some initial intrigue involved. The subject has such an inherent value - and for a while at least, Hentges holds our interest. But the last act is laughable and the finale foolish, especially when you consider the precautions taken by our baddie before. All in all, Hunger is nothing but a cinematic ruse. It promises cannibalism but can only deliver crap.

The Video:
As per this critic's policy, Screener copies of DVDs are not awarded points for video or audio. If Lightning Media does send a final product version of Hunger to the site, this paragraph will be updated accordingly.

The Audio:
As per this critic's policy, Screener copies of DVDs are not awarded points for video or audio. If Lightning Media does send a final product version of Hunger to the site, this paragraph will be updated accordingly.

The Extras:
This Screener copy of Hunger only contained the movie. No bonus features. If Lightning Media does send a final product version of Hunger to the site, this paragraph will be updated accordingly.

Final Thoughts:
Of all the movies this critic saw as part of the Fangoria Frightfest Collection, Hunger was the most disappointing. Anything that claims it will illustrate the dining depravity of man and then turn around and provide nary a plateful is worthy of ridicule. However, yours truly will grant that some in the audience, wholly invested in the premise, will perhaps find the perils faced by this fivesome worthy of some anxiety. As a result, we divide the Skip It and the Recommended ratings and come up with a score of Rent It. This way, you can decide for yourself without having to risk more than a barebones monetary investment. As with Grimm Love, another festival favorite that was underwhelming when it came to cannibalism, Hunger is all bark and no bite - and when you're dealing with skin snacking, that's never a good thing.

Want more Gibron Goodness? Come to Bill's TINSEL TORN REBORN Blog (Updated Frequently) and Enjoy! Click Here

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