Thursday 23 July 2015

EAT (2014)

Directed by Jimmy Weber, Starring: Meggie Maddock, Ali Francis, Maru Garcia. Horror, US, 2014, 87mins, Cert 18.

“Sorry sweetie, eat your heart out”.

It’s tricky trying to write a spoiler-free review about a film with the tagline: “The story of a girl who finds herself – and then eats herself.” The ‘girl’ in question is 30-something peroxide blonde Novella McClure (Meggie Maddock), a struggling LA actress who hasn’t landed a role in 3 years and whose fridge is practically bare. Trapped in a seemingly endless cycle of failed auditions, boozy nightclubs with best-buddy Candice and morning hangovers, Novella is in a very low place. To make matters worse, she’s 3 months overdue with the rent and previously patient landlady Eesha has slapped an eviction notice on her apartment door. What’s a girl to do?  How about absentmindedly chewing on her finger, then tearing off a whole stringy strip of flesh before passing out and ending up in hospital on ‘suicide watch’ for starters...?

Writer/director/editor Jimmy Weber’s first feature film is a glossy, visually appealing character study of a woman’s descent into despair, madness and ultimately self-destruction amidst the maelstrom of an image-conscious society and an endless sea of male scumbags. Much of the films visual appeal is provided by striking lead actress Meggie Maddock as blonde bombshell Novella, a role she quite literally gets to sink her teeth into. Then there's Ali Francis’ best-buddy ‘Candice’, an emotional powder keg with a handgun in her handbag that she’s not afraid to use.

The script offers up some amusingly bitchy back-stabbing exchanges between Novella and her (seemingly) arch-nemesis ‘Tracy’- who appears to be constantly stealing her roles. It doesn’t however scratch too deep below the surface as to what’s actually going on in Novella’s head, and ultimately I felt (somewhat ironically) under-nourished by its end.

The small-scale gore effects by Monster Makeup FX are suitably wince-inducing, and lead Maddock certainly sells the latex with gusto.
Reading the synopsis beforehand, it reminded me of the delightfully gruesome short story by Stephen King entitled ‘Survivor Type’, in which a man stranded on a desert island proceeds to eat himself. EAT is not that extreme, but it does cough up some memorably gory nuggets. The amusingly dark guignol finale particularly tickled my palette, as did the pleasingly inevitable post-credits shot.

EAT is not perhaps a full-on three-course gourmet feast, but it’s nevertheless a reasonable nibble if you’ve a taste for an indie body-horror snack.  

***(out of 5*)             

Paul Worts

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