They Feed (2005)
Starring Drew Waters, Anthony Brownrigg, Jacqueline Bergner, Patricia Campbell
Directed by Cory Turner
Andy secretly pines for Tina but doesn’t act on those feelings because she’s involved with his friend Eddie. Eddie’s an arrogant, womanizing jerk with anger management issues, yet Tina still puts up with him and Andy mostly looks the other way. Tina secretly longs for a decent guy like Andy but doesn’t act on those feelings because she doesn’t realize how he feels and because Eddie knows a dark secret about her that he often threatens to reveal to everyone whenever he’s in full prick mode, which is often. Will Andy ever build up the nerve to tell Tina how he really feels? Will Tina ever ditch Eddie and tell Andy how she really feels about him? Will these two lovebirds ever get together? Oh, and there’s these big man-eating worms in the woods threatening to kill all of them, but more emphasis is placed on the Andy-Tina relationship than on the man-eating worm creatures attempting to kill them.
Therein lies the Achilles heel of They Feed. It’s dull. These characters are dull. Their relationships are dull. Even their peril is often dull. Why should I care if these two characters get together if I don’t even care if they live or die?
When I first found out about They Feed a few months back I was intrigued. After seeing the trailer on Request Entertainment’s website I was sold, enough so that I decided to shell out about $20 for a DVD-R copy they were offering on the site. Then I sat down to watch They Feed and found doing so to be an absolutely frustrating experience. They Feed had all the makings for a fun, throwback creature feature but it was brutally obvious that they didn’t have the budget to make the film they set out to make, and by trying to get around the budgetary restraints the only thing they succeeded in doing was making a tedious film that often cheats us out of the very thing that we’re watching this movie for.
Tremors, this is not.
A group of wannabe scientists have been sent out into the woods by their college professor in search of the lost wreckage of an airplane that crashed decades earlier. The first thing I found myself thinking was how could there possibly be unfound airplane wreckage in these woods seeing as how there was hardly any foliage on the trees and the trees are spaced out nicely. The post-Katrina trees down here on the MS Gulf Coast look healthier than anything in this forest. But in reality the whole airplane thing is just a red herring to get them out in the woods where man-eating worms can get at them. Good thing, too, since I don’t think there was ever a really clear explanation as to why this wreckage was worth searching for.
The group consists of hunky Andy, hothead Eddie, hotty Tina, a dimwitted blonde Andy picked up that doesn’t much like roughing it, and an extra male and female, both of which are virtual non-characters that only take up space and give the worms two easy victims. The group looks more like a bunch of young Southerners ready for a barbecue cookout followed by an afternoon of NASCAR than explorers looking for an unearthed wreck site. Their base camp consists only of a tent, a few sleeping beds, some folding chairs, a card table, and a laptop computer. That alone should tell you all you need to know about how low the film’s budget was.
In addition to them, there’s also a pair of forest rangers on foot patrol in the woods in search of poachers, which is especially dubious considering we never really see any animals in this forest.
The story structure primarily follows a simple pattern - walk, argue, scream. They walk around a lot. They argue a lot. They scream a lot. This pattern is occasionally broken up with scenes of them running and screaming or sitting and chatting, but mostly they walk, argue, scream their way through the film. Now I give the filmmakers credit for at least attempting to develop the characters (at least the main ones) and I give the actors credit for trying to breathe life into these people but I just didn’t care about their romances, their squabbles, or their peril. They just bored me to tears and had me wishing for more killer worm action.
I’ll say this for the toothy, man-eating worms; the FX people did a nice job on them considering the obviously miniscule budget. While they are obviously brought to life through puppetry, the puppetry is surprisingly well done and a digital distortion that was obviously added over their bodies in post-production succeeds in making the puppetry a little less obvious and gives the creatures skin a shimmering effect that’s actually quite neat and appropriate given their worm-like nature. I just wish the worms had more screen time. More often than not, their actual on-screen appearances only last a second or two before cutting away to reaction shots. They Feed boasts more reaction shots than every Spielberg movie combined. It’s obvious that this wasn’t done because the point was to leave things to our imagination; the film is too gory for that argument. It’s obviously a case of not having the budget to show us the worms in action. Look no further than the film’s finale where the last two survivors (Wanna guess who they are?) attempt to escape in a pick-up truck. The whole scene is done from the cameraman in the back of the truck filming the two inside the truck’s cab looking through the rear window in terror as they try to speed off. Sound effects of the worms making the noises they do have been added but we’re never actually shown a worm slithering on the ground attempting to catch the truck.
They Feed also boasts some truly atrocious editing decisions that manage to take the fun out of what limited worm attacks scenes we actually do get to see. A scene of a worm snapping at someone will be intercut with numerous shots of other characters elsewhere either doing mundane things or having a Dr. Phil moment. This is done numerous times throughout the film to the point of aggravation.
I’ll give the makers of They Feed some credit. They did attempt to actually flesh out some of the characters, something too many monster movies these days don’t even bother with. Unfortunately, as I’ve stated, they bored me and the overall film seemed to be far more ambitious than the budget allowed for. The twist ending would have been really neat if everything leading up to it hadn’t felt like such a waste of time to me. Request Entertainment claims that they’re planning a whole slate of future monster movies and I look forward to seeing what they go on to produce. I just hope they learn from the mistakes made with They Feed.
1 out of 5
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