Feed (2005)

Director Brett Leonard
Writers Kieran Galvin
Starring Patrick Thompson, Alex O'Lachlan, Gabby Millgate, Jack Thompson, Rose Ashton
Genre Psycho
Tagline Consumption is evolution.

Feed is one of those movies that has developed a reputation beyond what it actually contains, mainly due to those who haven't seen the movie or at least who haven't been involved in the horror scene over the last couple of decades making comments. Yes the film dances with the grotesque and doesn't bother hiding much in the liquid lard department, but beyond a certain shock value we aren't taking gorenography here. If you can get beyond the basic premise, super sized chicks being feed to death, then you pretty much have a movie that can match it with Se7en or Session 9 in terms of plot setup.

Talk us through it

Phillip Jackson, just back from some fun times with German cannibals, finds his home life something of a shambles and is searching for a new challenge at the office. The dude has like the coolest job on the planet or not depending on viewpoint. He's an Australian Federal Policeman assigned to cyber crimes. He also seems to be ex-military judging from the photos on his desk.

With his partner in digital investigation, Nigel, our online sleuth dials into the weird world of "Feeders and Gainers" in amongst the porn, paedophile, and assorted pervert sites. No sorry I didn't note down any urls, do a google sicko. Phillip becomes obsessed with one site as his intuition tells him something sinister is lurking just beyond the security barrier erected to a members only area.

Phillip uncovers the dark world of Michael Metszencalmpf, where the whole gainer thing has been taken a tad too far. With no support from his boss Phillip flies out to fat central, Toledo Ohio, the home of Michael's website feederx.com in order to discover the story behind the story. It soon becomes a race against time to save Michael's latest victim Deidre from literally eating herself to death. One fascinating movie with a hell of a twist ensues.

You want to supersize that?


"Is it a crime to feed someone?" - Richard

Director Brett Leonard, a yank in charge of an Aussie flick, opens his movie with a scene recreating a certain Germanic cannibalism incident that made the news at the time. The Director does try to create Germany via masking things with blue filters but he really should have ensured the local Aussie flora wasn't so obvious in the garden beds of the house about to be raided by the "German" police and our "hero" Phillip. The Aussie copper takes the lead and with his boss intoning "walk into hell" and enters what looks to be your standard middle class suburban house. It would be a pretty ordinary house if it wasn't for something highly suspicious frying on the oven, and the two Germans in the bathroom involving themselves in the aftermath of a home amputation of a German sausage. Phillip, just like the audience, isn't quite sure of what he is seeing here especially when the amputee screams out "It's my body! I want to be eaten!". Leonard serves notice that this is going to be one hell of a disturbing movie and then, besides the odd shock visual or two, drops the ball with the line open.

Writer Kieran Galvin certainly had enough fodder to base two or three horror flicks on. There are over 400 registered cannibals in German, and the spread of the "feeder/gainer" sub culture in the United States must be of concern to Federal Authorities in that country especially considering that under current law they can't indict Ronald MacDonald for crimes against humanity. Wonder if crimes against the culinary arts could be put on the books? It's truly unfortunate therefore that Galvin doesn't make more of the source material beyond playing around with a sort of inverse Hannibal Lector strategy. Rather than explore some truly disturbing concepts the writer focuses on a sociopath with above average intelligence, a staple of the sub genre this movie falls into.

What does save Feed from being just another Silence of the Lambs clone is the amount of social criticism the movie contains. In interviews Brett Leonard has stated Feed is his "American" movie. I would imagine the Director means the United States of America rather than all the Americas but there we have it. A full on assault on consumerism, modern concepts of the body beautiful, Christian fundamental sects, and what defines a healthy sexual relationship are just a few of the subjects brought under the microscope of a movie that maybe helps itself to a tad too many issues. One or two sub themes are acceptable, but this movie is drowning not waving in a multitude of them.

Michael certainly doesn't hold with the modern idea that models who look like tween boys isn't the ideal most males want. For sure I like me some curves but come on 600 hundred pounds of Jenny Craig nightmare!

One of the weaker aspects of the movie are the two leads, Phillip the nominal white hat wearer, and Michael who simply has a few too many Roos inhabiting the top paddock. During their cat and mouse game, heaven help us the majority of which runs via the internet leading me to raise my eyebrows on a few occasions, the two are being compared in a sort of attempt to bring to the fore that whole concept of who do you support. We're talking the sort of morally ambiguous story where the so called "good guys" are as depraved and off the planet as the villains they are chasing. Leonard goes out of his way to neon sign post the comparison, just in case a few of his audience aren't graduates of Se7en. Phillip's admittedly non standard sexual relationship with his free wheeling partner Abbey is explicitly compared to Michael's definitely deviant relationship with the ever expanding Deidre, who has just topped 600 hundred pounds of rolling blubber. I'm not even going to state there's a thin chick in there trying to get out, Deidre is more than happy to be feed and heck is even thinking the 1,000 mark could be achievable. The Director asks us which is the more "normal" relationship, but I'm guessing most audience members have ticked the "neither" box already. Strangely, and if the movie had of been made more recently I would have noted it as being from the Rob Zombie school of clichéd psycho explanations, both Phillip's and Michael's childhood trauma are held up as being the root cause for their current peccadilloes. Phillip's dad was a total dickhead who forced his son to eat brussel sprouts while his mom wasn't opposed to the odd bit of oral outside the confines of marriage. Naturally this is the sort of thing that turns normal sane kids into future sexual deviants. They really do need to ban those sprouts folks, work of the devil apparently. Michael has a slightly better case for his current obsession with Gilbert Grape's mother, due to his own mother being something of a whale out of water who demanded he feed her constantly. You can kind of see how this would have an adverse effect on a young bloke. Strangely Michael has managed to take his obsession and make it into a money spinner, which becomes the root cause of Phillip's interest, though the audience will have cotton on to what's going down there far quicker than the copper who isn't really portrayed as the sharpest tool in the shed. I would almost have to say intelligence is no longer a pre-requisite for employment in the federal police forces.

A nice touch is added where both Phillip and Michael have the sort of domestic bliss that U.S sitcoms would like us to believe is more common than it actually is, that clearly masks their less socially acceptable pastimes.

I guess my major gripe with Feed is the fact that things happen during the movie because the script requires them to happen, not due to natural developments. The plot here doesn't ring true in places, wouldn't Michael have had both Police and Military unarmed combat training? Michael cares about Deidre when the plot requires him to, dropping the gun on the bed, but at other times there is no relationship, the siphon of fat thing. For mine this is a cardinal sin for any movie to commit, and Feed not only commits that sin but chows down on it in big meaty gulps.

Director Leonard hits Feed like a wild night out in Bangkok, and you get the feeling he needed to use every trick in his bag to get this one over the line. Mucho use of filters to mask the Sydney locations, rampaging montages and quick cuts that show Eli Roth how to get those right, and what I have to say are some fairly ambitious go for the money shot images. Leonard keeps the over oppressive atmosphere flowing and makes the audience scream out "feed me" as things rampage towards a conclusion that, while logical, is certainly left field.

Stealing the show was Alex O'Lachlan (Michael) who makes his fetish seem almost plausible, there's a whole Hannibal Lector superior thing working in O'Lachlan's favour and he milks that cash cow. A truly chilling portrayal of a sociopath who has no idea he is doing anything remotely wrong. Is that a tautology? Patrick Thompson (Phillip) reminded me of someone but I can't put my finger on who. Defiantly one of the Aussie television actors, guess it will come to me in due course. For mine Thompson was the wrong choice for the role as he fails to nail the tortured soul of his character and thus the movie loses impact when the trick in the tale is unleashed. Gabby Millgate (Deidre) doesn't have much to do beyond lounge around in a fat suit and act all girly or dominating as the script requires. She gets it right but the role isn't overly demanding. Veteran Aussie thespian Jack Thompson (Richard) is his normal reliable self, you can put the house on him folks, the dude is always welcome in a movie round my place. Rose Ashton (Abbey) is a plot device but does her best with a limited role and should have no issues cashing her cheque.

If one of the Reverend Fred Nile's crew, i.e you think people should shower with their clothes on, then you may want to give this movie a miss as we're talking ozploitation overdrive folks. Actually that whole ozploitation thing is getting overused lets stick with exploitation. Rose Ashton simply shows off everything she's got, Gabby Millgate shows off everything the fat suit has got. Hey that's about as realistic as the silicon technology on display during most recent Hollywood exercises in the inane. And Alex O'Lachlan lets it all hang out, and he doesn't even have to paint his pork sword blue in doing so. Notice how I didn't mention the word "penis" there as apparently we have had a few objections to including "penis" in reviews. I'm putting it down to penis envy. D'uh did finally mention the "P" word. Well okay in for a penny in for a pound, O'Lachlan has no issue with showing the world his penis in all it's dangly glory. [Editor's Note: Well at least you didn't go near the clit quote, that could have got us into some real hot water].

Since this review is meant to be all informative and such a quick word on the gore content. Leonard ramps that sick puppy up and lets it off the leash to mark out it's territory. We get gross fat chicks, sorry was that not PC, the "P" word cooking away in a frying pan, cannibalism, rendered human fat (hey what do they cook stuff in at MacDonalds anyways), messy remains, and some violence. You have been warned, I kind of thought it worked for the movie.

Cliff Bradley came to the party with a sombre mainly piano driven score that matched Leonard's on screen visuals. I'm calling the dude kicked a major with the sound work. But what really had me hitting my Countdown beat was the use of some rock tracks in all the right places. We get "Cherish" by The Association that really is just right where it's used and adds to the overall grossness. "Tainted Love" versions by The Captain's Package, and Imogen Bailey that was perhaps a tad twee for mine. And finally "Itsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Poka Dot Bikini" The Rides Ons, that had me grinning from ear to ear. There's quite a few others but the ones mentioned were the standouts for mine.

Summary Execution Feed came at me with one hell of a reputation that for the most part was unwarranted. Sure there's gross fat chicks, check your local mall on any given Saturday, some cannibalism straight out of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), and some truly disturbing ideas, but Director Leonard keeps it all reigned in without going for total annihilation of the viewer. The Director is more about social commentary and less about going to the extreme that his subject matter lends itself to. Overall I came away entertained but not a devoted fan of Feed.

The movie generated some interest at film festivals and got a decent enough work out on DVD without setting the Box Office alight. Local reaction is pretty good, though grain of salt time there as our Reviewers seem to be pretty much unanimous in deciding Australia was a pretty good movie. Foreign reaction is as usual mixed with a number of high profile sites liking what they saw while a few other sites really should shut up before making even bigger fools of themselves. Really Rob Zombie invented the whole "moral ambiguity" thing with The Devil's Rejects! A movie one reviewer holds up as being the best genre release of the last twenty years.

Recommend movie for those who don't mind some gross in their hamburger and chips happy meal. Feed isn't the bad arse flick people have claimed it to be, but it definitely isn't playing it safe either. I'd super size on this one and see how far you can get through your hamburger before choking.

ScaryMinds Rates this movie as ...

Hunt out a weekly rental, Leonard could have done so much better with this culinary warning.