02nd Aug2015

‘Eat’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Meggie Maddock, Jeff Maez, Ali Francis, Dakota Pike, Jeremy Make, Christine Olyer, Stacy Pederson, Nate Bakke, Maru Garcia, Olivia Hendrick, Aaron Lenius | Written and Directed by Jimmy Weber

eat-meggie

The horrors of Hollywood strike again. After last years hit Frightfest flick Starry Eyes, which took a very supernatural look at the price of fame; comes 2014′s other L.A. set terror tale, Eat; a more visceral look at the perils of fame and the price people pay in the pursuit of it. Two films which could not be more stylistically opposite yet themetically identical…

Novella McClure is like a lot of struggling actresses in Los Angeles: she’s in her early 30s, her fake name sounded cooler ten years ago, and she hasn t landed a role in three years. To top it all off, she’s developed a disturbing self-harm habit for coping with stress – she bites herself and eats her own flesh. To make matters worse, Novella keeps running into Tracy (Pike); her “nemesis” who books job after job. The stress turns Novella’s nervous habit of biting her fingernails into something much more serious… she bites herself and eats her own flesh. Novella desperately tries to hide her strange condition but it’s hard with rotten bandages and missing appendages!

The debut feature from writer/director Jimmy Weber (who himself seems to have negotiated the perils of Hollywood and the life of wannabe filmmakers/actors/actresses) Eat is at once a fantastic, terrifying look at someone trying to make it in L.A. and also a superb metaphor for the more superficial aspects of being in front of the camera. After all, our heroine, Novella, has an eating disorder doesn’t she? And whilst she may take it to extremes by literally eating herself, aren’t we all aware that Hollywood sets a notorious standard for beauty – one where actresses starve to look thin, to fit that “look” the casting agent wants, to get “the part”, the one which will make their careers…

OK, so it takes quite a lot to gross me out these days. After all I’ve plenty of cannibal movies; all the gore-filled zombie films you can shake a dismembered leg at; every gory, banned horror you can think of. But to see an attractive blond woman munching on her own flesh. THAT grossed me out! Congratualtions Jimmy Weber. But the gore is not there for gore’s sake. Instead it drives the much-bigger story, pushes forward the metaphor and, ultimately, actually makes us care more for Novella and her situation.

It’s the juxtaposition of beauty and pure visceral gore which makes Eat so immensely powerful – and I’m not taking about beauty in the literal sense, although as I’ve already mentioned lead actress Meggie Maddock is easy on the eye. No, the beauty is in the stylistic choices made by writer/director/editor Jimmy Weber. The mise-en-scene perfectly captures both sides of Hollywood, the sleaze and the glamour; the music is PERFECT and so, so effective – capturing the mood and tone of the film as it progresses. And that final theme? As Novella’s heart “breaks”, knowing that she’s never going to succeed and she succumbs to her hunger one last time? Sublime. And Weber’s actors don’t put a foot wrong either. All of which makes me wonder if Weber hasn’t teamed up with the demon-worshipping cult from Starry Eyes to further his career..? I jest.

Never has a cannibal film – which is essentially what this is, at least in the broadest terms – been so poetic and so beautiful. If Starry Eyes set the bar for “pursuit of fame” horror for me last year and now Eat has leaped it. Here’s hoping Jimmy Weber’s Hollywood career goes better than Novella’s – he deserves it to after this!

Eat is out now on DVD from Monster Pictures.

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