Sunday, April 22, 2007

Feed (2005)

An Australian cybercrime investigator named Phillip (Patrick Thompson) stumbles across a fetish site featuring morbidly obese women called FeederX. These women are willingly being fed by a “feeder” until they grow so large that they cannot move. The featured attraction of the site is a woman named Deidre (Gabby Millgate), who has surpassed 600 pounds and can be watched via live webcam. After noticing that the fetish site had a surprising number of security measures, Phillip decides to investigate further. He suspects that the “feeder” is force-feeding the women until they die and discovers that there are bets being placed on when the women will die. Phillip tracks down the webmaster of the site, Michael Carter (Alex O’Loughlin), who lives in Ohio. Phillip travels to Ohio and soon becomes involved in a cat-and-mouse game with Michael.

Feed is an extremely well-done film that has many layers and operates on many levels. It’s first and foremost theme is consumerism, and our need as a society to consume at obscene levels. Secondly, it deals with sexual deviation, both in the fetish realm of “fat appreciation” that Michael’s website panders to as well as Phillips own sexual preferences, which involve violent and rough sex with his girlfriend. Its third main theme is the aesthetic of “beauty” in our culture and how rail-thin women are revered while women with curves are typically looked down upon. There are constant parallels that are drawn between the characters of Michael and Phillip while at the same time they are juxtaposed. The two different, yet very similar characters are both presented as unlikable, vulgar and repulsive persons but both of their obsessions draw the viewer in and we can’t look away.

The script by Kieran Galvin is self-aware, satirical and bitingly intelligent, while at the same time vulgar and disgusting. The characters are all well-developed and either become more likable (oddly, the killer Michael) or more repulsive (investigator Phillip) as the film progressives. Director Brett Leonard does an excellent job at capturing all the morbid action and crafting some nail-biting and obscene scenes. I was surprised how Leonard kept everything in check and didn’t let the story devolve into a cheap, exploitative flick.

The acting is all solid throughout, with Alex O’Loughlin giving a stand-out performance as Michael Carter. The characters many psychological layers are revealed as the film goes on and it was a pleasure to watch O’Loughlin play the villain with pizazz and emotional intensity. The initial explanation by Michael as to why he does what he does was entirely convincing and therefore that much more creepy. The psychopath actually made sense and it seemed as though Phillip was the one confused…this turned the tables considerably and really made me stop and think, who am I rooting for? The rest of the cast does a commendable job, with special mention going to Patrick Thompson as Phillip and Gabby Millgate as Deidre (who had to wear one of the biggest fat suits ever created for a movie).

There were some believability issues within the movie, such as why did Phillip never call for backup when he tracked Michael down? Why did he let himself become involved with Michael’s games? I felt these points were lacking explanation, but they didn’t really dampen my enjoyment of the film.

Feed is a horrifying movie, but it felt more of like a thriller than a horror film. The focus is more on Phillip tracking Michael down and then Michael toying with the cop. There are quite a few unpleasant scenes involving force-feeding (and, more specifically, what the women are being forced to eat), corpses, morbidly obese women and so forth, but no gore. I was expecting an extremely nasty, exploitative film, but thankfully got something much more intelligent that had a lot to say about Western culture and society.

Feed surprised me with its intelligent script, stellar acting and its social commentary. It’s also a sick, satisfying and subversive little film that I highly recommend!

Available from Amazon!

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