[review by JA Kerswell]
|Lydia (Ardis Barrow) and Marcus (Jared Cohn) go down a rabbit hole in FEED THE DEVIL.|
FEED THE DEVIL is to be applauded for trying something a little bit different. Although different isn’t always better. A point in case is this tale of a down-on-their-luck trio hunting for a marijuana plantation deep in the woods and stumbling into a hellscape. It had potential but was just too muddled and curiously unengaging.
Marcus (Jared Cohn) is a loser; a fuck up so bad that he even gets beaten up by his own alcoholic mother when he tries to steal cash from her. Desperate to escape his dead-beat life, he is tipped off by a Native American friend of his late father that there is a pot plantation ripe for the picking deep in the Alaskan forest. Marcus sets off with his girlfriend Stella (Victoria Curtain) in their pickup truck, only to find that Stella’s younger sister Lydia (Ardis Barrow) has stowed away in the back. Lydia insists on joining them and, come nightfall, they head off track into the wilderness following the coordinates Marcus was given.
However, after Stella is attacked by wolves Marcus refuses to go back to town for medical treatment for her until he has gathered his stash. Stella takes off and thumbs a lift from a passing car. The following morning, Marcus and Lydia find the car abandoned and the driver’s bloodied body in a ditch - but Stella is nowhere to be seen. Convinced that she has headed to a local motel, they go there only to find another Native American man drowning his sorrows at the bar. After a tip-off that Stella might be at the nearby reservation, the couple head there only to find themselves menaced by a number of deadly foes …
FEED THE DEVIL strives to have the discombobulating weirdness and dread of films such as THE LAST BROADCAST (1998) or THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999) - although it is not found footage. In this, it sometimes succeeds - helped by a suitably grating abstract score by Miksa Kovek. It also has some arrestingly surreal imagery and, of course, the breathtaking scenery can’t fail to wow.
|We rarely get a look at the killer in FEED THE DEVIL, which is part of the problem.|
Part of the problem is that it is difficult to warm to the main characters - and therefore care about their predicament. Marcus especially is an asshole throughout - shouting things like “Fuck this shit!” as he swigs from a bottle of whiskey. It’s a choice, I guess, but it’s hard to get invested in a character who is so unlikeable and behaves illogically throughout the film. We are expected to accept that the same man who wouldn’t initially take his girlfriend for medical attention will then risk everything - including repeatedly his life - to save her from the film’s central threat rather than enlist the help of the authorities.
The film flirts with the supernatural, with both Lydia and Marcus seeing ghostly visions of shadowy figures. Something that they incredibly largely brush off. The film becomes especially muddy with its villain or villains. Are they real or imagined? The fact that the killer - or killers - seem able to basically teleport about the woods and vanish as quickly as they arrive largely robs the film of any suspense. Although, when they are seen clearly, they are visually arresting and quite frightening.
We are also expected to buy the fact that there is an encampment strewn with bodies hanging from poles like a recreation of the village from CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (1980) relatively near the reservation. A kind of no man’s land where hunters and hikers go missing, but no one goes looking for them. It is suitably gruesome, but by this point, the film had lost me.
Although it employs elements of the backwoods slasher movie, FEED THE DEVIL is far too fractured to build up any real momentum or suspense. An interesting failure is the best thing I can say about it.
female: 3 / male: 5
1) Male killed (method unseen)
2) Male hit on the head with rock-headed club
3) Male killed (method unseen)
4) Male sfound dead
5) Female hit with rock-headed club
6) Male hit on the head with rock-headed club
7) Female found dead
8) Male stabbed with bone knife and hit with rock
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