Welcome back to Film Gutter four our latest skinnydip in the strange waters at the very edge of cinema as we know it. We're far from the safety flags and lifeguards as always, as we dive headfirst into one of the newest films we've reviewed here at Film Gutter, Eat.
Having recently endured Thanatomorphose and a couple of other utterly unpleasant movies (which I will come to shortly, don't worry!) the opening moments of Eat felt like a cinematic palette-cleaser. It's a film that has a gloriously colour feel throughout, and is shot with all the gloss that fits the subject matter so well. Our lead is Novella McClure (that's not a typo, by the way) who is a struggling actress going through a bad streak. Having not landed a role in three years, she depends heavily on a very up-and-down best friend and the kindness of her landlord to keep her afloat day by day. She keeps going to auditions, but is considering giving up her acting career because of her disappointment, her resentment of younger actresses and the stress the whole career causes her.
Especially because she has a bad habit of eating herself when she gets stressed out...
Yeah, that's not a typo either. There are two or three very uneasy scenes in this movie, moments where everything simply gets too much for Novella, and with no other food in the house the only thing that can calm her growing nerves is gnawing on her own flesh and bones. Of course this eventually sees her submitted to a psychiatrist, rather a charming type, whom she enters into a relationship that is every bit as dysfunctional as it sounds. Not to mention monumentally against any code of ethics in the psychiatric profession, but that's another matter entirely.
All that aside, what Eat presents is an impression of what life is life for an actress still aspiring towards her goals but perhaps beginning to realise those goals may never be fulfilled. It also steeps itself in the falsity of the film industry and the damaging effect it can have upon everyone within it, sometimes intentional and sometimes not. The downward spiral Novella goes on is in part fuelled by the people around her, who offer the pretence of support but are ultimately unable or unwilling to offer it in the form that she so desperately needs. The characterisation is a little broad, especially for Novella's best friend, but there's enough here to make the film perfectly watchable if not groundbreaking in any way.
Before I get to a rating, I do want to give two caveats here – one, this is probably one of the milder films I've reviewed here. Many people with little viewing experience in extreme horror would probably find this very shocking, but if you're a tried and true gorehound you might find this a wee bit tame compared to other Film Gutter fare. Secondly, this film unfortunately treads a lot of the same ground as the wonderful Starry Eyes, and for me doesn't do it in as interesting or as telling a way. It's probably lost itself a point or two by that comparison, but if you have seen or do go on to see both I'm sure you'll see what I mean.
RATING: 6/10. There's some interesting stuff here, and the core concept has legs – the idea of an actress literally eating away at herself in an effort for fame. The camerawork and presentation, too, is pretty slick and fits the feel of the piece nicely. For all that, the characterisation is a bit lazy and the unfolding of the story and the finale did feel a bit obvious. I wanted to like this more, but having seen the much superior Starry Eyes give the subject a far better treatment, it was hard to rate it any more than a slightly-above-average 6/10. Worth a look, but not one of the top offerings we've seen here at Film Gutter.