Here’s the thing: horror without any investment in character is simply just an idea plus gore. It equals nothing more than an exercise in gratuitous violence, society’s biggest complaint against cookie-cutter horror films. And that’s a legitimate complaint: after all, why should anyone invest ninety or more minutes of their life in something that, in the end, is nothing more than one more chance for special effects people to show you how they can destroy a human body? Maybe there’s some benign fascination in that – like those who do slow down to ogle the car crash for its inevitable victims – but aren’t you still left with just a car crash?
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers solely necessary for the discussion of plot and characters. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last two paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
Seriously, people, can I ask you: did anything good ever come from filming a movie inside an abandoned psychiatric hospital? Hasn’t this been done before enough? Well, to its credit, DARK FEED does try to throw one interesting twist into the mix – the haunted hospital has the ability to infect those who enter it with a psychosis that forces one to do harm unto himself as well as others – and, like any good twist, I welcomed it only until I realized that the script – conceived and directed by Michael and Shawn Rasmussen (this is their first production, as best as I could research) – really did nothing with that conceit. Instead, we’re treated to a plethora of one-name characters spending the night shooting their film inside these dark corridors slowly going crazy and resorting to bloodshed as a cure.
Disappointingly, there’s no substance to any of these characters. They’re all one-dimensional – a bad narrative choice – because, as a result, you don’t care about any of them. If you don’t care about any of them, then there’s little to no interest in seeing what essentially happens to them. So much effort went into fleshing out the hospital that no one even gives these players a second look. They behave as do the worst creations populating yet the next predictable horror thriller – too self-absorbed to see what they’ve unleashed upon themselves and too ignorant to do anything to stop it.
At best, DARK FEED might be an easy, breezy Friday night scare, though I found myself reaching for the Fast Forward button on more than one instance. At worst, you’ll demand your money back from the video rental store.
DARK FEED is produced by Rasmussen Brothers Productions. DVD distribution is being handled through Lionsgate. As for the technical aspects … well, the picture looks and sound decidedly murky, as is the nature of the story being told here … but I can’t help think it may’ve been served to throw a little more light on a few of these sets. It wasn’t all that hard to see at times, but some definition is rarely a bad thing. The disk has an assortment of special features – deleted scenes, gag reels, auditions, rehearsals, and the theatrical trailer – but I honestly wasn’t interested enough in any of it to check them out.
(MILDLY) RECOMMENDED. It isn’t that DARK FEED doesn’t have a clever idea. It does. It’s just that it does little to nothing with it except to build upon the traditional ghost story by making it contagious. While that idea may not be all that new, it’s still an interesting conceit. I’d be interested in seeing what more money and more talent and a stronger script could bring to the table, but, as this picture is, it’s entirely forgettable.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Lionsgate provided me with an advance DVD screener of DARK FEED for the expressed purposes of completing this review.
Here’s the thing: horror without any investment in character is simply just an idea plus gore. It equals nothing more than an exercise in gratuitous violence, society’s biggest complaint against cookie-cutter horror films. And that’s a legitimate complaint: after all, why should anyone invest ninety or more minutes of their life in something that, in the end, is nothing more than one more chance for special effects people to show you how they can destroy a human body? … more