If you’ve ever seen his 2008 slasher, Gutterballs (or read my review here) you probably know that Ryan Nicholson is a sick fuck. I, of course mean that in the best possible way, and I’m sure he would consider that a compliment anyway. His resume is actually pretty interesting. He’s been in the make-up/special effects business for Sci-Fi and horror for years (IMDB lists his first credited gig as The X-Files in 1993). So he knows the business. Blood and guts are his bread and butter. Recently, he’s been behind the camera and using his expertise to make his films as bloody as possible. His most recent installment, Famine, is no different.
Fortunately this one was almost as bloody and considerably more palatable (mainly due to the absence of a 15-minute gang rape scene). Famine is a little bit off beat and not to be taken too seriously. I think it’s purposely a little silly and comical. Once you let go of worrying about every little plot hole it’s a pretty fun movie. That being said, I’ve never been a fan of movies that are intentionally bad out of laziness. That is-“if I make this bad on purpose, I won’t have to bother making it good.” That’s a cop out. Famine didn’t feel like that to me-but it’s somewhat had to tell.
The plot was a little weird and hard to follow sometimes. It all takes place over one day and night in a high school (in Canada, I think, judging by the accents.) First of all, the title is somewhat misleading. The word “famine” makes you think of some sort of desperate, state of nature kind of survival or something. No, the “famine” is a voluntary overnight lock-in with no food in the school gym as a show of solidarity for the starving peoples around the world. Ok so that’s out of the way. We find out that the school had a famine a few years ago and one of the nerdy students tried to bang one of the hot teachers but the teacher accidentally had his face melted off by acid from the chem lab.
So now the students, who are basically all big-boobed girls in slutty outfits, and dudes who look like they got kicked out of a 90’s grunge band, are each being picked off and sliced up by a mysterious killer who’s running around in the school mascot costume (the person in the costume is director, Ryan Nicholson. He played the killer in Gutterballs too.) So the students try to survive and figure out who’s carving up their friends. Of course there are like 15 people in the school and 9 of them are suspects. The rest are just there as fodder for the masked murderer and his knife. The ending turns out to be a bit of a twist. I knew something was coming, but I didn’t quite guess this one.
Ok, so the plot is iffy, the acting is sub-par (even if it’s on purpose, it takes away from any scariness the movie might have.) The main character looks and acts a lot like Molly Shannon from SNL, so that takes something away from the mood too. In general, the way the characters are developed (if at all) is clumsy and ineffective. For the most part, we know who we’re supposed to hate and who we’re supposed to be suspicious of, but do we really like anyone? You actually hate just about everyone in the movie. Even the main character is weird and hard to sympathize with. That takes away from the overall feel of the movie even if it’s supposed to be a gag.
Anyway, I guess that’s not really the point. Nicholson just wants to show us some great death scenes and shower us with blood, and maybe get back at some high school bullies by proxy. Take the movie for what it is: gross, gory, and entertaining. Even though it won’t get a good score, If you can stomach it, it’s probably worth a watch.
- Is it scary: 2- There are some suspenseful moments but the main themes of this film are blood and boobs. So don’t expect to lose much sleep.
- Originality: 3- It feels just like any other generic slasher. The way the plot unfolds actually makes it feel like a copy of Gutterballs.
- Blood: 7- It wasn’t the bloodiest thing in the world, but you’ll probably consider taking a shower afterwards. There are definitely some nasty scenes.
- Believability: 2- Nope. There were Grand Canyon sized plot holes and all the blood, cleavage, and lame humor in the world won’t make up for that.
- Setting/Cinematography: 5- Locked in a high school overnight isn’t exactly the scariest place. There are lots of long corridors and dark hiding places though. The camera work isn’t the worst but there’s nothing to amazing there.
Final Score: 19/50