Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hunger (2009)

The threshold for civility

This is a low budget, single location horror about human beings put in a pitiful situation to see how long they can keep civil. The experiment is controlled with only one goal in sight, so the events unfold more gradually than a natural occurrence as the characters have to get adjusted to their pseudo environment if they choose to give in. Movies like "Saw" and even "Kill Theory" in the same year treated their captives with a little more engaging, over-the-top games and personality than this, which leaves the more measured out "Hunger" with more of a message but still left with some areas that are better described in theory than actually played out for the cinematic experience.

A woman, later named Jordan with a medical background, wakes up alone in the dark with another female screaming for help. Soon enough there are five total in the same dire situation with no clue as to how or why they're there. The lights turn on to reveal a different room that has barrels of water and a hole for sanitation. Meanwhile a man is shown operating controls and cameras and jotting down notes to his own superior satisfaction, as if he knows what's to happen next. Yet, little does he know what the final result will yield... The captives try and pick up common clues amongst themselves as to why they're there when their true answer comes when they find a scalpel and a message along with it: "The average human body cannot last for more than 30 days without food."

This shares a formula of past efforts, which can take away true shock, though it actually tries to take the torture subject more seriously with a little more to think about than its past counterparts in horror that spilled all its guts in the first scene. That might have been refreshing for more of a psychological experience, except the issue is this single location film doesn't fully shed its skin to be more than just a concept and seems to play it so basic at times to the point of keeping the audience unconcerned. Their dreariness is felt except to the point of tedium for the viewer as well. This gives little snippets about themselves to keep up some kind of mystery element but they aren't always given enough to make them steadily captivating. The medical background of Jordan feels more included to provide answers than an inherent trait. Even potential for a drama angle feels rudimentary about who they are up till then.

There are flashbacks for a tragic event with the kidnapper. The transition of what made him get to the present point or why he never let it go is eluded to the point of being somewhat far-fetched, especially considering how orderly and productive he is in present state. But, on the other hand, probably rightfully so as it might bring into play logistics and it does give a self-fulfilling reason albeit a lunatic one. A few goals and some false hope occurs but aren't enough to be a driving point as a layover till the desperate hunger begins. If you happen to watch the doom and gloom local news, you'll realize how vile people can get, though double that with the desperate set of circumstances by this point here.

There are some noticeable inconsistencies when it skips ahead some days with not only their clothing and appearance but their behavior as well, which can take one out of believing it's all really happening. For a low budget film there's still less areas to compensate on than others that have patches left and right for their lack of production. The performances come with some hits and misses--such as some scenes being over or underplayed--but are mostly adequate for what they're given with a basic script that doesn't always come with a full outline of where they're coming from.

The message of "Hunger" doesn't seem to be about putting fear into a viewer to where it can happen to them. The events go from modest beginnings to balls to the wall for what the captives are capable of. It shows once someone gives in or reaches that point there's no going back. When people act terrible all of the time those with restraint and conviction stand out instead of what should be the other way around. That sentiment gives this film a certain level of hope for a horror film, albeit still a small shimmer for humanity's sake.

Rating: 5.5/10

Director: Steven Hentges (Jacklight)
Link: IMDB

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