Peace Arch Entertainment // 2006 // 86 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // April 6th, 2007
Evil lies beneath the surface.
Tom Sizemore (Black Hawk Down) stars as a blue-collar maintenance worker who finds himself in the middle of a low-budget creature feature.
The story is basic. A scientist has developed a groundbreaking serum that can potentially regenerate dead tissue and a badly burned billionaire enlists the help of some shadowy mercs to secure the serum and for himself. So the bad guys, led by femme fatale Krendal (Wendy Anderson), shoot up the guy with mysterious substance, and dump him in the basement of an abandoned building to simmer in his juices.
Later, Vince Stoker (Sizemore) and his maintenance pals stumble on the same building and see a chance to make some quick money salvaging antiques and collectibles. What they don't expect to find is a flesh-eating, out-of-control monster, which is what the poor billionaire test subject has transformed into. Now he/it is running amok sinking his teeth and claws into any victim he encounters. This forces Vince, his pals, and the newly-returned mercenaries to band together and blah blah blah, you know the rest.
There's some good stuff to be found in Bottom Feeder, though ultimately these sporadic highlights are overshadowed by slow pacing and a clichéd story that limps across the finish line 86 minutes later.
First, the sliver lining. Writer/director Randy Daudlin has infused a by-the-numbers script with some clever writing. There's plenty of dark humor and Daudlin has the good sense to feed off some of the genre clichés he embraces. For example, during a slice of expository dialogue, Krendal utters the painfully overused line "You have no idea what you're dealing with," and follows it up by asking if Vince and his pal have ever heard of the scientist, to which Vince's friend replies "Oh, you mean the geneticist?" A less self-aware slasher would just let this moronic line pass, but Vince shoots a questioning glance to which his friend responds "Someone left a magazine in the bathroom." See, that's pretty good. I'm down with those self-deprecating digs at the genre. There are more examples of this playfulness strewn throughout the film and they go a long way in lending Bottom Feeder some street cred.
Second, is the creature violence. Though the creature itself is fairly uninspiring (think Batboy from Weekly World News on bovine growth hormones), the mayhem he dishes out is satisfying. There's a lot of gnawing, squeezing, ripping, and amputating, and the horror that Daudlin focuses on is actually quite effective. His effects crew is up to the challenge, fashioning some daring feats of bloodshed (highlight: one unlucky victim has her jaw ripped off, spouting geysers of the red stuff), and the supplemental sound design is actually quite sickening. The creature gets a nice comeuppance at the end, a hack attack involving axes, power saws, and a wholly accommodating victim.
And now the cloud. The simple truth is there is positively nothing you haven't seen before in a quadrillion other unstoppable-killing-machine horror movies. Even the underground setting is far from unique and, in fact, fails to prove an interesting milieu for the havoc anyway. In what was surely supposed to be construed as a confining, claustrophobic locale to add to the tension, the endless and similar-looking corridors of the subterranean basement bore. Our heroes run from one shaft to the next, talk a bit, go to another place that looks the same, talk some more, and then there's some killing. Which brings me to another complaint -- frankly, this flick just moves too slow. The gabbing to gibbing ratio is too far out of whack for a B-movie, and the creature attacks -- while enjoyable -- are too brief and too spaced out. And despite the clever drops of writing here and there, Sizemore and company aren't interesting enough to effectively string the attack scenes together.
The DVD is fine, sporting a slick 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and a suitably discrete 5.1 mix. Trailers and a meaty making-of documentary comprise the extras.
Bottom Feeder isn't the punch-line its title sets it up as, but it's not a memorable horror movie. Clever dialogue here and there and liberal bloodletting highlight the affair.
Why don't you stick around underground for a few more weeks.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Peace Arch Entertainment
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 86 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Making-of Documentary