TLA Releasing // 2005 // 101 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // August 1st, 2006
Flesh for fantasy!
Feed follows a sex crime investigator from Sydney who seeks out criminals through the Internet's intricate underground labyrinth of private porn sites. He stumbles across a peculiarly disturbing case where a man is feeding a bedridden woman that is over 600 pounds already and rapidly gaining more weight. The investigator suspects that the man's intention is to kill her, and begins a furious search to stop the killer before his victim literally eats herself to death. What the suspect plans on doing with a sizable dead woman is the real mystery. An early clue is given in the movie in a sequence where a guy is letting another man eat him.
I innocently always called them "chubby chasers," but Feed takes this concept to the next disturbing level. In this movie we have "feeders" and "gainers" engaged in a sadomasochistic endeavor where one partner gains so much weight they can't move. That's the gainer, who eventually becomes immobilized and can not do anything without their "feeder." The question Feed offers is could this be a criminal act? Basically you have two consenting adults, but they are engaging in dangerous sexual experiments where one party risks serious disease and death. If you can stomach this thriller, you'll see the gluttony crime of Seven stretched out to feature length.
Feed is surprisingly well-produced for a low budget Aussie import, sporting some incredible make-up effects and a well-photographed digital picture. It isn't guilty of being technically off in any way. The real question is who is this picture for? American director Brett Leonard (The Lawnmower Man) helms the project, and lets his grotesque pedal hit the floor. It's photographed lovingly, but I question why. Feed is not a satire; it takes the thriller aspect seriously. It also features a lot of flesh on display, and not just what you would expect. This film goes full frontal with almost every character, fetishizing each figure in the film. It's a softcore porn approach to the thriller that seeks to delve deeply in to male sexuality.
There is a serious ongoing discussion between the cop and the killer about the state of women in the world today. The two men talk endlessly about how women are victimized by society's preoccupation with skinny waifs. Meanwhile we are treated to visions of the opposite extreme, as if that is in any way liberating. Feed is sending a mixed message, and not shy about going to this dark place of hypocrisy and exploitation. It deals with intimacy and the objectification of women without a sense of irony, but the men are muscular, buff, and prime beefcake. There are disturbing images of a picturesque male jacking off over a 600 pound woman covered in chocolate syrup and cake. It's a shocking portrait of non-sexiness.
Newcomer Alex O'Loughlin and Patrick Thompson (The Seventh Floor) play the two leads. They do well delivering intensity, and don't shy away from their respective nude scenes which are often violent in nature. The two men also handle some of the sillier exchanges with enough conviction to make me think the script works. Actress Gabby Millgate (Babe: Pig in the City) sports film history's largest fat suit. She is required to lay back and allow funnels and cupcakes to be thrown in to her mouth. It's degrading, but she manages to maintain a stoic dignity despite her compromised role in the film. She deserves some kind of award for enduring this role, a special Oscar for compromising yourself for art.
In the end Feed reaches a satisfactory conclusion, even if it is slightly cheeky. The final confrontation is notable for several bizarre twists, as well as the longest conversation at gunpoint I can recall committed to celluloid. The cop and the killer engage in what feels like an extended therapy session while the victim screams in rage and terror while immobile on the bed. It feels endless, and the relief is palpable when it is finished even if the end result is a true head scratcher. Seems the metaphorical study takes over the literal thriller aspect at some point, and we get a dose of bizarre medicine in the final shots. Perhaps this is all meant to punish us for being sadistic enough to engage with the movie in the first place. It punctuates the director's desire to simply become a metaphor instead of a true thriller, and perhaps this isn't the strongest choice. The movie does make a strong unshakeable impression, and would be the ultimate motivation to begin dieting. It's like food porn in some places, and terrifying in it's level of gross practices like sploshing (smearing food for sexual satisfaction).
TLA Releasing offers a stunning package for the film. Feed sports a nice transfer, great surround sound options including Dolby or DTS, and a buffet of extras that support it well. We get ten deleted scenes as well as an alternate ending which provides a coda to the final shot. There are interviews with all the major players involved, as well as a look at the North American premiere screening. Also included are behind-the-scenes footage from the set and an infomercial. Yes, I said infomercial. Don't worry it's about a diet based on watching the movie. TLA certainly has developed in to one of my favorite companies to release titles. They always treat their catalog well, and Feed is an exceptional example of this. Whatever you think of the movie, the DVD is outstanding.
When does disturbing go too far? When is grotesque not a good thing? You'll struggle with these questions if you choose to sit through the entire feature. Feed is well crafted, but has all the charm of a snuff film. Even though it asks serious questions, brings up controversial topics, and does well with its material, it's a strangely punishing journey that proves torturous instead of entertaining. You'll find a solid thriller here, but will you want to wallow in its excess? It's certainly shocking, definitely disgusting, and decidedlyperverted. I can't say the film isn't well-made or the DVD is sub par, but I can say I question why anyone would truly enjoy the experience. Keep in mind I've reccommended a film where killers sew up live dogs in people's chests (see the review for Beg!), and I'm also a big Italian horror fan. Gore doesn't bother me at all, but this descends in to psychological trauma. If the thought of watching a naked 600 pound woman being tortured with funnels doesn't quite gross you out, then have I got a feast for you. Feed me! Now if you want to go on a diet, consider this film a must buy!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: TLA Releasing
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* DTS 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 101 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* 10 Deleted Scenes
* Alternate Ending
* Interview with Brett Leonard
* Interviews with Producers and Stars
* Featurette on the Premiere
* Behind-the-scenes Footage