Dark Feed (DVD)
Directed by Michael Rasmussen and Shawn Rasmussen
Distributed by Lionsgate
Dark Feed is the directorial debut of Michael and Shawn Rasmussen, who saw their previous script, The Ward, helmed by none other than Master of Horror John Carpenter just a few years ago. They're once again returning to very familiar surroundings for their first feature collaboration, a mental institution, but this time they're following a film crew that's making a horror movie inside a dilapidated Boston hospital that's been abandoned for decades (and for good reason, we come to find out).
In Dark Feed we follow up-and-coming screenwriter Chris (Rudick), who's visiting the set of a low-budget thriller based on a script he wrote. Chris serves as our tour guide throughout the story as the hospital's influence begins creeping into the psyches of the film crew, who slowly start to display violent and bizarre behavior, and poor Chris is left to figure out what's happening inside the sinister hallways of the abandoned hospital before it's too late for him and the rest of the crew.
And while Dark Feed doesn't necessarily sound like the most original horror film on paper, it does have a likability and charm to it as it cleverly plays with modern spook-house conventions, with the Rasmussens sincerely wearing their love for the genre and the stories that have influenced them as storytellers on their sleeves here.
It seems that the Rasmussen brothers also smartly realized that they didn't have the budget in place for a ton of ambitious set pieces or crazy special effects gags so they chose to use the atmosphere of their location to do all the heavy lifting, almost transforming the hospital into a living, breathing character in Dark Feed. By wisely making that location the central focus of their story, the brothers find a great balance between the paranormal mysteries unfolding and the slasher-esque nature lurking deep within, resulting in a movie that feels like a modest descendent of either the 1999 House on Haunted Hill remake or the original Silent Hill.
One thing working against Dark Feed is that the film does take a painfully long time to get the momentum going, meandering in and out of the lives of the many characters, which will undoubtedly challenge the patience of less forgiving audiences, but for me once the third act kicks in and the blood starts flowing steadily, Dark Feed becomes a really fun, haunted house/slasher mash-up that hits far more marks than it misses.
Special features are on the light side with your standard deleted scenes, gag reel, and trailers. Rehearsals are included, too, but other than diehard fans, does anyone watch those? So, nothing to write home about here.
While it's not necessarily the most imaginative indie horror film of this (or any recent) year, Dark Feed does get a few things right with directors Shawn and Michael Rasmussen relying on tone and atmosphere to pave the way for the mayhem awaiting their characters once the notorious hospital begins to tighten its grip on the unsuspecting film crew, who want nothing more than to make their low-budget horror movie and go home at the end of the day. The kills the Rasmussens inflict on their victims are nasty, gory fun and certainly impressive for the budget level the filmmakers were working with, and as a whole, Dark Feed is pretty enjoyable as soon as everyone begins to go batshit crazy and the violence kicks into high gear.
3 out of 5
1 1/2 out of 5