FEED THE DEVIL (2015)

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Directed by:
Written by: ,
Starring: , ,

Available now from High Fliers Video

Talking about genre films isn’t something that should ever be too tricky, particularly when it comes to the tropes of a typical horror story. If they’re not being cut down by slasher villains or monsters the characters fall prey to their own psychological flaws. There’s often a comfortable formula. But this particular release had me scratching my head more than a little. Is it a morality tale, or a ghost story? The advertising material is plastered with things like Deliverance meets Cannibal Holocaust meets Predator… but it’s nothing of the sort. In fact the writers don’t seem sure what kind of story they were trying to tell. While there are several narrative beats here and there it’s just kind of empty. Considering how simple it is to shoot a chase movie in the woods the results are kind of mystifying.

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The opening set up is what you’d expect from the location as a group of hunters in Alaska have their heads squashed by a shadowy figure. But the random events that follow are not exactly standard inclusions. In some cases that would be a sign of creativity, but here it’s generally just random and disconnected. Elsewhere Marcus (Jared Cohn) is a booze swilling low-life, introduced trying to steal from his mother. He’s also shown having an argument with her that leads nowhere. There’s a one time hint that this is set in the 1980s as we overhear her television playing things like the old ‘this is your brain on drugs’ rhetoric but it also has no bearing on the story. Maybe she was just wrapping up an all night Nightmare on Elm Street session and couldn’t stay awake through part six.

Meanwhile back at home he meets up with girlfriend Stella (Victoria Curtain) and they talk to a strange friend of the family who claims he owes them a debt. He passes them an amusingly crude treasure map written on a Bible page before exiting the story without any further explanation. It turns out that this is a get rich or die trying sort of storyline. What they’re looking for isn’t money but some kind of secret marijuana stash, a strain that can only grow wild in the middle of nowhere. Who is tending it and why? Is it really worth twenty-five thousand dollars? Is this really the core of the narrative? So with Stella’s stowaway sister Lydia (Ardis Barrow) in tow they head off to get what’s coming to them.

This isn’t an inspiring start but for anything to happen they have to go and get lost in the woods. Perhaps someone thought the road trip gone wrong needed an extra dimension and threw in this warning about greed. Like everything else it feels very thin. The same can be said of a native American tribal subplot which is added later and doesn’t really fit. At times the whole movie feels like an afterthought. In the woods they come across traps and are apparently attacked by wolves (this isn’t edited in a way that makes it clear) leading Stella to hitch a ride to get away. But she vanishes from the car that picked her up leaving Marcus and Lydia to find her along with their dream crop. However things only get stranger when a drunk in a motel claims a tribal sect in the woods might be responsible.

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These kind of dialogue scenes are placed here and there but most of the time the characters just wander around. Then they split up, find trouble, then wander around some more. Sometimes they run. Sometimes they go by boat. In some scenes they just sit around. Whatever the scenario the whole thing goes on forever. But who is killing people and why are they displaying the victims? Are the woods haunted? New questions are always being raised. Weird apparitions sometimes harass the gang but always vanish before doing any permanent damage. So many elements feel like tangents from another story and are never explained. If only one of these ideas felt like a main through line to give it all some structure.

The characters themselves are non entities. Marcus yells about ‘God damn Indians’ and ‘God damn weed’ in between all the drinking, but there’s no sense of what he actually wants beyond the basic selfishness. Lydia’s confused offhand comments about ‘going to Europe to see the Pyramids’ offer just as little development. It’s a shame they didn’t add more of these moments to make it a full on comedy. In terms of actual horror action it’s surprisingly light but no less eye brow raising. Despite being impaled and drowned Marcus never seems badly wounded and only bleeds from the mouth occasionally before going back to ranting. Other additions like a sinister local girl living alone in a shack and a couple of hunters are also pointless and feel tacked on.

Like everything here it’s a patchwork of hare-brained ideas swimming in a void of barely formed drudgery. Why not make it about tense scenes if it was too tough to come up with a stronger narrative? Being hunted by wild animals or stalked by a murderer seems like a simple story to tell after all. There are lots of possibilities for set pieces and low budget thrills. There are many kinds of simple character drama that could be included in a case like this with limited scenery options. But nothing here feels thought out or finished. It’s just too dull and too much of a mess. A lot of mysteries about the supernatural nature of scary woodland rituals never explained. But the biggest question is why watch this at all? I’m afraid that’s one I have no real answer for.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

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About Mocata 141 Articles
A sucker for classic epics, 80s science fiction and fantasy kitsch, horror, action, animation, stop motion, world cinema, martial arts and all kinds of assorted stuff and nonsense. If you enjoy a bullet ballet, a good eye ball gag or a story about time travelling robots maybe we can be friends after all.

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