Feed DVD Review
Written by Eric "The Hitmam" Strauss
DVD released by TLA Releasing
Directed by Brett Leonard
Written by Kieran Galvin
2005, Region 1 (NTSC), 101 minutes, Not rated
DVD released on July 25th, 2006Starring:
Alex O’Loughlin as Michael Carter
Patrick Thompson as Phillip Jackson
Gabby Milgate as Deidre
and Jack Thompson as Richard
Everyone has a fetish. One man’s turn-off is another’s turn-on. And the Internet has put those turn-ons — however bizarre — just a mouse-click away.
Australian detective Phillip Jackson spends his days on an Interpol cybercrime unit hunting the people whose turn-ons have crossed the line from the quirky to the criminal.
But it is his own obsession at the center of Feed, a horror thriller in the Se7en vein, and the latest DVD in TLA Releasing’s “Danger After Dark” line.
When Jackson stumbles across a Web site that voyeuristically chronicles the grotesque, gluttonous feeding of 600-pound women in all their corpulent glory, he finds himself both repulsed and suspicious. Those suspicions carry him to America and a confrontation with Michael Carter, the Webmaster whose psychosis rivals Jackson’s own. And as the rogue cop and his clever foe spar on ever-wilder intellectual and physical levels, the tension rises along with the madness.
Any film that features a brilliant killer dueling with a fanatical cop will quickly conjure images of movies like The Silence of the Lambs, Kiss the Girls and the aforementioned Se7en. But director Brett Leonard (no stranger to the cyberworld, having directed The Lawnmower Man and Virtuosity) gives Feed its own style — reminiscent yet unique.
The look of the film is gritty, the direction alternately sharp and claustrophobic, and the haggard Patrick Thompson fits in perfectly as Jackson, perpetually unshaven, sweaty and a frustrating half-step behind his adversary. Meanwhile, Alex O’Loughlin makes the perfect physical counterpoint, blond and handsome, sharply dressed and wielding a rapier wit. Not only do both men look their parts, they carry them off brilliantly.
In a thankless role as Deidre, the 600-pound “gainer” to Michael’s “feeder,” Gabby Milgate is the literal center of the film. She makes her character memorable for reasons beyond the shock value that comes from seeing her sprawled across a bed, eating and puking and kicking her fat-rolled legs.
Leonard takes full advantage of that look, which will inevitably repulse (or perhaps arouse) in its extreme. Although at a glance, it seems Leonard is risking a chuckle with Milgate’s cartoonish appearance, the tone of the film will turn laughter into shock very quickly. Witness the director’s back-and-forth cutting between love scenes: Jackson’s violent, furniture-breaking sex with his smoking-hot girlfriend Abbey (Rose Ashton); and Michael’s tender, playful interaction with Deidre as he coats her in sundae fixin’s. Indeed, there is plenty of nudity in Feed, male and female, thin and fat — I am loath to say sexy and ugly; to each his own, after all — gratuitous and grotesque.
The best thrillers are not just mysteries, not just about whodunit, but about the hunt, the chase, the catch. The best thrillers are a journey, not a destination, and Feed satisfies the palate. Even if the ending spirals to the ragged edge of out of control, it doesn’t matter. The byplay between Thompson and O’Loughlin, the thought-provoking treatment of extreme fetishism, the heightening of tension at all the right times, the touches of black humor when the tension gets unbearable: That’s what Feed is about, and that’s why it works.
Video and Audio:
The anamorphic widescreen picture is good, but not without flaws. The source image tends toward the soft, out of focus side in some scenes and the grainy side in others. The DVD carries both extremes off acceptably, but there are some regrettable flickers of compression noise here and there.
Still, the picture quality is generally strong, and an improvement over the rougher DVDs in the “Danger After Dark” line’s debut set.
The Dolby 5.1 audio is strong, with good use of the surrounds for the music and effects. Some thrillers by nature will not have a particularly active mix, and Feed is one of those fairly quiet films — no car chases or gunfights or anything else to test the bass.
But the nuances of the film, particularly in the fetish scenes, are picked up well: the slapping of excess flesh, the gurgling of a milkshake poured down a throat, the buzzing of flies on a too-old meal.
Those little touches help make the film. And help make some scenes downright nauseating.
A DTS 5.1 track and a Dolby 2.0 track are also available, as are English subtitles.
While TLA’s first “Danger After Dark” discs were light on features, Feed is (appropriately) more hefty.
The behind-the-scenes footage focuses on the Deidre effects and answers perhaps the top question in a viewer’s mind: Yes, that’s a suit Milgate is wearing. And it’s damn difficult to put on her.
Eleven deleted or extended scenes include an interesting alternate ending that extends the surreal feel of the one used, and an entire 10-minute sequence covering an excised subplot.
A series of short interviews include Leonard, O’Loughlin, fellow star Jack Thompson (the father of Patrick) and producer Melissa Beauford. Of the four interviews, O’Loughlin’s and Beaufort’s are the most interesting, and they are back for more in an audience Q&A session after a screening, a featurette called “Feed in Philadelphia: The North American Premiere.”
For a touch of humor, there’s some goofy infomercial-style teaser filming featuring Milgate in costume, Ashton in a bikini and O’Loughlin and Patrick Thompson trying to keep a straight face delivering lines.
Finally, there are trailers for Feed and two other TLA releases, the serial-killer tale Evilenko and the Danger After Dark box set.
Even the special features menus on the box and on the screen get in on the fat-fetish act, mimicking the nutritional information off food packaging.
|– I guarantee you at least one review will dismiss Feed as a Se7en clone. Don’t make that reviewer’s mistake.
|– Feed is a film that tests a DVD with all manner of images: razor sharp, blurred, gritty. Nine out of 10 scenes, the disc passes the test.
|– A capable surround mix that does its best when it matters most.
|– A solid package that treats its serious subjects (relatively) seriously.
|– An interesting, well-crafted film and a good DVD treatment, to boot.
There’s a level of intelligence that elevates Feed. It has all the elements of the best horror thrillers: Tension, a decent script, strong acting and directing. The film takes a good long look at what makes obsession and what happens when that obsession is taken to an extreme. It also has a killer hook: a, but it’s hard to look away. And you’ll miss a darn good film if you do. bedridden 600-pound woman, nude in all her glory, slurping down food and begging for more. Yeah, it’s almost stomach-churning at times
(Weapons of Choice: Mitsubishi 1080 series 42” TV, Sony DVP-CX995V DVD player, Bose Lifestyle 25 Series II speakers and, in certain situations, Panasonic 27” TV, Panasonic A110 DVD player and Bose TriPort headphones.)