The director of this gore fest, Brett Leonard, hardly inspired confidence when he told those in attendance at the screening that he would be in London for a few days working on the latest Highlander movie. My suspicions proved to be correct as what unfolded was a complete mess in every way imaginable.
The film is billed as a suspenseful, psychological thriller that ventures into the underground world of Feeders and Gainers, a burgeoning sub culture of sick minded individuals who take pleasure in excessively feeding their partners, who in turn get turned on as their weight balloons. So, there are no illusions as to what to expect. But even so, it is tough to watch certain explicit scenes of decaying body parts and unusual sexual acts.
What makes it even harder to watch is the poor editing, and excessive use of music in scenes of suspense, where you feel there is a distinct lack of confidence on the part of the director to just let the scenes speak for themselves. To further compound the problem, the script seems like it was put together by a bunch of GCSE students, with no depth, or intelligent thought provoking insight, and an ending that is as obvious and inevitable as George Bush’s foreign policies.
Set in Australia and the US, Feed is about an Australian cyber crime investigator, Phillip Jackson (Patrick Thompson), who polices the underbelly of the internet. One day, amidst the usual porn and paedophiles, he finds a suspicious website of feeders and gainers. It seems the last gainer mysteriously disappeared after hitting 600 pounds. Phillip tracks down the site to Toledo, Ohio, in the US, and decides to go alone, determined to prove himself, despite the objections of his superior. Pushed over the edge, and as the truly monstrous nature of what the Feeder (Alex O’Loughlin) is doing emerges, Phillip becomes engulfed in something that takes him beyond the call of duty – and sanity.
In a world where the seedy side of the internet is increasingly becoming a cause for concern, especially with how to police it, and paedophiles are making the headlines in this country on a regular basis. Exploring the underbelly of internet voyeurism is potentially a fascinating and morally complex subject that if handled correctly could raise and tackle some important questions about modern day culture. But Feed fails on every level to get to grips with the seriousness and importance of a widespread problem.
Brett Leonard said that the film also explores our obsession with body image, weight management, the burgeoning diabetes crisis, extreme makeovers and cosmetic surgery, which is why scenes of someone feeding willing women and broadcasting it live on the internet appear so shocking.
There is no doubt that obesity is a serious concern and the images in this film of women unable to move from their beds and completely reliant on their ‘feeder’ are disturbing. But the characters involved are too one dimensional and the explanations for their actions (blaming childhood traumas) are stereotypical and so there is no room for empathy, understanding or even interest in this farcical, mess of a movie.
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