It seems as of late the independent horror scene is awash with slow-burn films. This is not a bad thing under any circumstances, as things must constantly change in order to survive. If I had watched films like 'The House of the Devil', 'The Innkeepers', 'Thanatomorphose' and Starry Eyes' when I was younger, I can guarantee that I would have lost all interest within ten minutes. Now though, these films are unsettling reminders of what can be achieved with an atomsphere of dread, raw emotion and incredibly honest performances. 'Eat' is one such film that manages to horrify without the need for excessive gore, profanity-laced language and mis-timed comedy. This is a film that is difficult to enjoy because it is so real and honest, not only being a horror film, but also a commentary on showbusiness in general, and how it can consume individuals with all of the self-destructive and soul-destroying rejection one has to suffer for their art.
This are not going well for Novella McClure, a stuggling actress and our protagonist in 'Eat'. She is a 30-something actress who hasn't managed to get a role in ten years. She has also developed a strange habit of eating her own flesh when her anxiety and fears catch up with her. Novella tries her best to hide her habit from her motherly landlord Eesha and her incredibly over-protective friend Candice, but things continue to get increasingly worse for Novella. Will a meeting with a handsome psychiatrist change her ways, or is she destined to be consumed by her fear, anxiety and herself?
'Eat' is an incredibly powerful and pessimistic tour-de-force that has no light at the end of the tunnel. Please, don't expect anything in the form of happiness or good-feelings to come from viewing this film. It is stomach turning and spirit-breaking in equal measure. The performances are hypnotic and believable, especially that of Meggie Maddock (who plays Novella McClure), who brings so much vulnerability and heart to the film, as well as bringing an almost scarily realistic emotional instability and all-consuming hunger of wanting to achieve her dream. It could be considered feminist propoganda, as every man is a vile predator only after one thing, and some of these men will not take no as an answer to anything.
The special FX are sickening to say the least. Flesh tears, oozes and wounds are lingered upon, allowing the viewer to bask (or vomit) in their crimson glory. Not since 'Thanatomorphose' has gore been such a sharp kick in the guts and truly wanted to make me regurgitate my lunch, something which the sound design only helped to accentuate.
'Eat' is a beautiful yet disturbing film, and Meggie Maddock is hypnotic in her moments of beauty as well as the more depraved moments of cannibalism. Gore-lovers will love the film for its scenes of self-consumption, whereas fans of mote art-house horror will love the film for its honesty, beautiful shot-composition and its commentary of showbusiness as a whole. A film worth checking out, as it provoked genuine emotion as well as stomach churning gore.