Hunger (Steven Hentges, 2009)
Netflix Instant’s description of this film dances around its central conceit: “A sadistic scientist wants to answer a simple question: what are [the people he’s kidnapped] willing to do to survive after weeks without food?” However, because the central conceit of the movie and the central conceit of my review revolve around the same thing, I’m sorry if this is a spoiler alert (though if you didn’t understand where the movie was going by reading that, you probably shouldn’t be watching it): Hunger is a movie about cannibalism. And, because of its ridiculous script, written by one L. D. Goffigan, who has no other credits on IMDB, it is a very bad movie about cannibalism.
Plot: a nameless scientist/nutzoid, played as a child by Britton Partain in his first screen appearance and as an adult by Beerfest‘s Bjorn Johnson, kidnaps five seemingly-random folks—Jordan (Wicked Little Things‘ Lori Heuring), Grant (Resident Evil: Extinction‘s Linden Ashby), Luke (The Hamiltons‘ Joe Egender), Anna (Lea Kohl in her first screen appearance), and Alex (The Novice‘s Julian Rojas)—and confines them in a small area. They have a number of fifty-five gallon drums of water in a small alcove, some drinking utensils, and a scalpel, and mounted on a post is a white wall clock that has been modified to count down from thirty days. After a long, confusing period where everyone is trying to figure out how they got there, etc., Jordan, who it turns out is a doctor, hypothesizes about the clock and gives us a long, talky description of what happens to a starving body. (This becomes important towards the end of the film, for reasons of “I can no longer suspend this much disbelief, you morons.”) At which point the action begins.
Oh, wait. No it doesn’t. The “action”, what little there is to be found in this movie, doesn’t begin until an hour into its hour-and-forty-minute run time. Which is not necessarily a bad thing; a variation on this setup was done, and done way better, in Nine Dead (cf. review 29Dec11 ish). But that movie had actual characters, an interesting mystery that took the entire movie to solve (this one got through the “why are we all here?” bit in about ten minutes), a sense of pace…you get the idea. Still, I saw the potential, and was ready to give it some points for that, until we got to said beginning of action, where Goffigan stumbled on the stupidest horror movie trope I have ever seen:
note: the rest of this review is SPOILER ALERT territory, be warned and stop reading now if necessary.
According to L. D. Goffigan, the very act of taking a single bite of human flesh is an instant, one-way, express ticket to insanity. I shouldn’t even have to use the term “ludicrous” here. But by the end of this movie, I wanted to take Hentges (who, by the way, turns in his first directorial effort in fourteen years, and given this, it may well be fourteen more before his next one) and Goffigan and stick them in a plane crash in the middle of the Andes to see which one ate the other first.
I’m sure this movie could have been worse—Lori Heuring, despite quite possibly the worst string of casting choices in history, is a capable actress, and the rest of the crowd do a passable job with a script that should have been burned, not filmed. And I’ll give Britton Partain props for his very few scenes here, which are the best in the film. But they’re not worth the cost of sitting through this entire shlockfest. *
I try not to be as tasteless as to put up stuff like this, but one look at the youtube ID of the uploader and I kind of couldn’t help myself.