Sunday, January 01, 2006

Feeding the Masses - 2004

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Often I wonder if indie horror filmmakers actually watch other indie horror films; you see the same cliché’s used over and over again, the same stories, characters, and ideas rehashed but never made any better, and you also catch them making the same mistakes. Not so with Feeding the Masses. Indie veteran Trent Haaga knows how to avoid the problems, even with newcomers Ted Marr and Richard Griffin taking the reigns.

Feeding The Masses is a very sophisticated zombie film that, like Romero’s trilogy (I hate t use the comparison but it is really fitting) is deeply intelligent and incredibly engaging; it’s just such a shame the budget couldn’t always keep up with the script. Written by Trent Haaga and directed by Richard Griffin, Feeding The Masses is an elaboration on the social implications of having our world taken over by zombies. This time the point of view is that of the journalist, and integrity, truth, and freedom of the press are the main issues. In war-torn times like our present, when anti and pro-war propaganda populate out televisions, radios, and written publications, we as Americans have a hard time deciphering between fact and fiction. Untrustworthy government officials and corporate machines are cliché villains, but they give us an enemy within our own nation to team up against in Feeding The Masses. Basically, with a good story like this, you could substitute zombies for anything; terrorism, war, smallpox...and it would still be a frightening horror film with a strong social commentary.

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The strength of this film lies strongly on the characters; Torch, the cameraman, (played by the talented William Garberina) is a strong lead, he’s funny and he’s likeable, while being able to add quirkiness to the role. Rachael Morris is a bland Shelley, the anchorwoman, but her character is fresh and real, while Michael Propster is a sympathetic and charming foil to Garberina’s reckless wit. Add to it all the evilly uncaring government official Agent Barnes (William DeCoff) and a handsome soldier named Roger who has a thing for Shelley (played by Patrick Cotter) and you have a perfect formula for success. In fact, it might even make a pretty good sitcom, if you took out the zombies. Or maybe you should leave them in.

It’s really nice to come across an indie horror film about zombies that doesn’t just show naked women being taken apart by zombies, because frankly, it gets old. Some impressive CG sequences allow the feeling of holocaust and disaster to really sink in. Tanks, buses; they really did their best in terms of budget, but still couldn’t pull off some of the necessary effects that the script demanded. Feeding will show you your fair share of gore, but the emotional impact it has is similar to things you might have felt watching the Dawn of the Dead remake; it’s very well done, though director Richard Griffin sometimes loses opportunities to create action and often his characters go under-directed, keeping Feeding The Masses from being as impressive as it could be. Because of the budget constraints it can’t compete with higher budgeted indie horror like 28 Days Later, which are essentially the same sub-genre and cater to the same audience. An ambiguous and abrupt ending leaves the viewer craving more; gore, death, sadness, storyline; just more.

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A great soundtrack adds power and class to the film, showing it’s a cut above the standard in more ways than one.

Written by: Trent Haaga
Directed by: Richard Griffin
Featuring: Patrick Cohen, Billy Garberina, Rachael Morris, Michael Propster


Review by Heidi Martinuzzi.


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