FEED THE BLACK (2016) Dir. Klayton Dean, UK, 33 mins
It's not all that often we do a short film here at Film Gutter – the last might even have been way back when we looked at the hideous Aftermath. And that for sure showed just what the medium can do and how effective it can be, but it has to be said that short films are not always as easy to come across as full-length features. The director of Feed the Black I met at the recent HorrorCon 2016 event at Magna, just between Rotherham and Sheffield, and the project certainly sounded and looked interesting, so I was really pleased to have the chance to check it out.
The movie starts with two slightly unusual things – first off, an epilepsy warning official backed by Epilepsy Action. I'm mentioning it here just in case! Secondly, we have a neo-hypnotic, almost ASMR style introduction to the movie, encouraging us to close our eyes and imagine the point of a bullet. I'm pretty susceptible to this sort of stuff, so I was kind of lost in it by the time the movie itself actually rolled.
Both of those things are very prescient, because boy are there some flashing images in this movie and there is a distinctly mesmeric quality to everything in Feed the Black. The story follows a young woman, torn by grief at the death of a loved one, who slips into a dark world of drug addiction and depression. Honestly, plot-wise, that's about all I can tell you and about all I was able to latch onto. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, because FTB is less a straight narrative than it is a visual and aural experience. There are haunting images presented one rapidly after another, sometimes almost too fast to keep pace with, accompanied by a soundtrack torn between classical beauty and dark discordancy. From my various dabbles into the world, I couldn't help but wonder if there was something binaural here because the soundtrack really put me on edge, probably even more than what was on screen.
And that's the sort of thing it is – if you are able to immerse and really lose yourself in this one, it's a rewarding experience. The deeper you allow this to sink in, the more you let go of life around you, the more there is to be had. As I sat in my front room wrapped in this someone coughed outside my window and I physically jumped – partly forgetting the rest of the world was there, partly because my nerves were jangling so in watching FTB.
I liked this a lot, but I can certainly understand that it wouldn't be for everyone. There's little here that's linear, a slim plotline and next to no dialogue included. But if you want to embark upon an audio-visual mind-melting journey, then this could just be for you – especially if you are someone very suggestible such as me.
RATING: 8/10. It's rare, especially these days, that I get to say 'that's unlike anything else I've ever seen', but this time I can legitimately pull that phrase out. The only thing that I could even vaguely compare it to would be some elements of Where The Dead Go To Die in terms of pure psychadelia. It's not a film to watch lightly, or stick on while you do something else, but it demands the view truly engage and immerse. If you're willing and able to do that, Feed the Black is a very worthwhile experience for sure. Clear half an hour out of your schedule, go big screen, crank the volume up and lose yourself.