Monday, August 3, 2009

More To Love

A few weeks back, I devoted some Pop Syndicate time to lamenting the lack of obesity themed horror films floating out there in the slim, space conscious world of DVDs. Thankfully, I received the perfect recommendation and promptly added Brett Leonard's 2005 Feed to my queue.

Feed is a frustating and daring film that raises far more questions than it has the patience or attention span to answer. That being said, it's ambitious, original, and as rich in black humor as it is in plot messiness and Red Bull spiked with Pixie Stix-fueled editing choices.

Quick Plot: Aussie detective Philip Jackson (Patrick Thompson) specializes in catching sexual predators lurking about that back alley otherwise known as the Internet. Coming off a successful ripped-from-the-headlines self-cannibalism case in Germany, his next endeavor is to delve into the sugar-coated, high carb world of feeders and gainers. A few Google searches and heavily edited closeups of alternative porn and keyboard dancing later, Philip is narrowing his eyes at a tattooed and trim American fattening up a 600+ pound woman who gleefully smiles for the camera with crumbs on her third chin.

International police tactics are abused as Philip battles jet lag, fast cuts, and an obnoxiously horny girlfriend to hunt down renown feeder Michael Carter (Alex O'Loughlin, also the man behind the original story idea) in the heftily populated (not really; that should be 'populated by hefty people' but that doesn't roll off the fingers quite as well) Ohio. What, exactly, Philip is planning on doing to or with Michael is unclear. Sure, continuously feeding obese women donuts and um, protein shakes is rather unhealthy, but there are much more odious and evil crimes being committed in the world we live in.

Feed's biggest problem--and it has many--is the confusing construction of its "hero." Philip's motives seem pure enough, but what kind of qualified police officer expects to carry out any form of justice when he’s breaking every single elementary regulation in an investigation he has no actual power to pursue? A few deleted scenes reveal a little more exposition regarding Philip's big cannibalism case, but we still don't understand his weirdly violent and/or kinky relationship with his girlfriend. Perhaps I blinked during the first sex montage and missed exactly what it was that broke them up.

On the other hand, Michael's role is fascinating...and incomplete. Just when we think we've figured out what he gets from dancing to the oldies on 200 pound thighs, a new character arrives to point him in a different direction. And like many plot points in Feed, said surprise character has no real grounding and ends up ill-defined and self-contradictory.

And yet despite these complaints, Feed held my absolute attention. I wanted it to be better, but I can't say it's not interesting.

High Points
I’m amazed at how quickly movies that heavily rely on Internet technology age and date themselves, but Feed feels appropriate to the current time and particularly relevant in the age of Craig's List Lechery

O'Loughlin gives an effectively creepy and surprisingly understated performance as Michael; we expect a Norman Bates-esque loner but end up with something much smoother and almost more disturbing

While I couldn't really find myself liking the character, I like the fact that the main 'gainer' isn't portrayed as a sweet (and sweet-loving) victim; she's whiny and unpleasant, yet you really do believe her joy at having this Ken dollish specimen at her service and how hard she tries in her own way to please him

Low Points
No film should include three fast-paced montages in its first 30 minutes. While the stylized music covers are sometimes clever, the mix of aggressive pop, sliding reels, and orangey coloring is enough to give you a headache well before the gluttonous gore tries to turn your stomach

An example of how hard the editing tries to impress: when Philip lands in the U.S., an overlay of the American flag is cut into the shot as Hendrix version of the Star Spangled Banner plays for a verse. We get it. It's not Australia.

The gimmicky ending makes me think that the filmmakers got to a certain point and decided to see just how bizarre and inane the final shots could be; an alternate ending on the extras shows that amazingly enough, they could have gone one step further (and dumber)

Lessons Learned
Sydney is kind of near Japan

Do I need to say it? Never, under any circumstances, eat or drink something from the hands of a sociopathic stranger

In Ohio, an Australian accent and hoodie are the next best thing to having a police badge

The only way to pull off sexiness when covered in baked beans is to be Ann Margaret

If the concept interests you, then I can’t recommend Feed highly enough. Despite widespread obesity rates, there really aren’t many films that even try to explore the subject, much less its sexual association. You have to get past obnoxious film tricks, some extremely uncomfortable visuals, and the lack of a truly likable character, but Feed is ultimately one of those films to watch and think about, rather than enjoy. The DVD is nicely packed with a few interviews and deleted scenes but I'd recommend a rent before putting down full price. This is not a film I expect to turn on for a good time or as background filler. I would rewatch it, however, to spend a little more time considering its themes on sexuality and more importantly, because it just may be the best appetizer suppressant I've seen since watching David Hasselhoff dangle a cheeseburger over his bare chest.


  1. I just have to say that the title of this post is the funniest thing ever!

    I would only guess that it must have been pretty inexpensive because I bought this film before seeing it, and I only do that if the price is right. It's been a while since I watched it, but I do remember that I did like it and also remember it being very orange.

    I remember thinking the film would be a massive gross-out flick, and everything about the style and the way it's packaged screams something like 'Slaughtered Vomit Dolls' or any of that other limit pushing trash. That stuff has its place, not really for me, but Feed wasn't that kind of film at all. There were some gross things, and you dredged up the memories of that Gainer eating food which was very disgusting.

    Like I said, I do own the film, and I thought it was way better than I thought it would have been, while not being great. So your review in my opinion is spot on, and I'm glad to hear (read?!) someone else's opinion of the movie.

  2. It must have been a pretty hard film to market. I'd never heard a word about it until Stefan recommended it. There's so little fat horror out there. It's not a perfect film, but I am surprised it never got more attention.

    The grossness isn't too bad, although Dierdre's you know, meat shake made me wince.

  3. Don't forget about Thinner! Is fat horror Fatsploitation? If not, it is now!

  4. But there's not enough fatsploitation! Thinner definitely qualifies (and man do I need to rewatch that soon), but other than that, what else is there? I want to see Heavyweights vs. Jason. That's an F13 movie I would actually want to see.