Released: 2014 by Pretty People Pictures
Director/Writer: Jimmy Webber
Stars: Meggie Maddock, Nate Bakke, Elena Chin, Robyn Ashley Dennis
Tagline: "The story of a girl who finds herself - and then eats herself."
Synopsis: Struggling actress, Novella McClure (that name, right?!), is really striking out all over: she hasn't landed an acting gig in over 3 years, she is late with rent & on the verge of being evicted, her dating life is pretty uneventful, and to top it all off, she is struggling to manage her ever-increasing anxiety.
I was enjoying a quiet evening alone which, essentially, meant I would need to find a horror movie that seemed interesting enough to grasp my attention for the next couple hours. Enter, Eat. I judged the movie by its cover, I'll admit it. Ok, the cover and the tagline. How could I not possibly be intrigued by that?! So the tagline basically gives away the main premise in this film but I figured there would be enough character development or plot build-up to keep it entertaining. Boy, was I wrong.
I think I'll treat this review by discussing my main complaints/issues with the film and then talk about the couple things I did like.
Consider yourself warned, this review is littered with spoilers.
Did Not Like:
Character development & script/dialogue. The character development (or what little there is) is quite lacking and leaves the film with a cast of characters that I don't care about. The dialogue seems pretty unnatural and, at points, just plain laughable. I was very aware that I was watching characters read a script. Anyone who listens to the podcast knows how I feel about movies who use a character's name with unnatural frequency. For those that don't listen, I hate it. There was a bit of that in this movie.
Let's work down the list of characters, shall we?
Tracy: Her character could've been played by any young, semi-attractive woman. I think it was intentional to not make any of the actress characters overly beautiful. Having their looks fall in the more "slightly above average" area of the scale not only gave them a reason for not getting any jobs but made them more believable and relatable to the audience. If these were conventionally "gorgeous" women, it would be harder to believe that they're struggling to find acting work. Then again, I look at a computer all day and know nothing of Hollywood. It's later revealed that Tracy trades sexual favors for roles. It's also later revealed that she is a pathological liar so who the hell knows what's going on with her. Again, it's a character that you don't need to care about and you're only meant to hate because she's obviously setup as Novella's enemy.
Eesha: Eesha is Novella's sweet landlord who, for some inexplicable reason, really seems to care about Novella. Enough so that she keeps looking the other way, each month, as Novella fails to pay rent. There is even a moment when Eesha toughens up and sticks an "eviction" notice on Novella's door. However, she's soon guilted in to taking it down when Novella has to be hospitalized for taking a fucking bite out of her own wrist! Throughout the movie, Eesha is just outside of the apartment but always concerned about Novella and how she is doing. She's always telling her that she knows "she'll get the next one." She's very one-dimensional and serves as the caring motherly-type for Novella. Hers didn't even feel like a necessary character, though.
Novella: It's because of her wrist-biting "suicide attempt" (as the doctors choose to call it because who's going to say that she tried to eat herself??) that Novella is required to see a therapist - that'd be Dr. Simon. Before the wrist-biting, the most we had seen from Novella was some cuticle-chewing. It was some serious cuticle-chewing, though - a la Black Swan. We are told, in a seemingly short amount of time, that Novella has severe anxiety and she chooses to relieve this anxiety by biting off and eating parts of her skin. First it's her wrist, then her foot, then her ankle, then her arm, and, finally, a piece of her heart. She stresses that she isn't a cannibal, just that she has an intense desire to eat her own flesh...yeah. We get next to no explanation as to why she is the way she is. Though I don't feel a back story is always necessary, in this movie, it was and it was needed badly. We do find out, at some point, that her father died tragically when she was young and she's been living off of an inheritance. So, anyway, back to Dr. Simon.
Dr. Simon: He first meets Novella in a bar with her "scary" friend Candice. He's immediately drawn to her good looks and "charm." We get the sense that he's going to be the guy who is able to help her out with her wacky disorder. He's another character that could've been played by any 30-something, semi-attractive man. That being said, I think the actor playing Dr. Simon, did the best acting in the whole movie. That's not really saying a ton, but still...
Candice: Finally, Candice. She's Novella's best friend, yet manages to get her into various types of shenanigans and is never truly there to help her out. Also, why does she call her "baby girl"? That doesn't even sound like natural speech. The two of them do little more than go to bars and get guys to buy them multiple rounds of drinks before excusing themselves to the ladies room. That's when they typically make their escape. I think the filmmakers try to make Candice look tough by giving her character really short hair and darker make-up...sort of a "I don't take shit from anyone" type of attitude. Oh, and she also carries a gun. But I never really bought into it. It all seemed very forced and too many of the other characters had to blatantly describe her as "scary" which took away from any chance of that being a natural characteristic of hers. The gun that she carries in her purse does come in handy after she and Novella are drugged and almost raped in a parking lot - she shoots both guys in the groinal area. When Novella freaks out, eats part of herself, and then tells Candice that she isn't doing well and needs help, Candice just passes out on the bed. She's not the most caring of friends. Finally, it's revealed at the end that she was in love(?) with Novella the entire time. Or at least had more than "friendly" feelings towards her. There was no buildup to that; it just came out of nowhere and didn't make much sense. She does prove her love, however, by committing some murders. Precious.
And that brings me to...
What I Liked
The Killin's & the Gore: It takes a lot to get to me and make me want to look away from the screen and I was tempted to look away multiple times during this movie. When Novella is chowing down on her foot and arm, the effects are really impressive. If only for the fact that they made me feel uneasy...so, "bravo!" to the effects crew on this film. Even the sound effects as she was chowing down were a bit much for me - meaning, of course, they were great.
How she basically chewed two toes off as well as a good chunk of her foot and then still managed to shove said foot into some pumps and walk around is beyond me. Then again, I have all of my toes and no missing chunks and any shoe with more than a 1" heel feels like straight-up torture.
I question, of course, how medically accurate any of this would be. She ate a lot of her foot and never sought medical assistance. At one point, it shows it looking a little gangrene-y (and I swear to god, if she had eaten that, I would've puked) so I'm confused how she managed to just play it off so well.
The majority of the gore is when Novella is eating herself, however, there's a fair amount of blood (and I think brains) when Candice decides to defend Novella's honor, after learning that Dr. Simon is just a jerk who bangs all of his patients (wasn't even true, btw), and goes to the good doctor's house and shoots him in the head. Then she rolls his body up in a shnazzy rug and presents it to Novella like a cat presenting her mouse kill. At some point, Eesha comes in the house to see if Novella is alright and is, sadly, shot in the head by Candice. She pulls the ol' "now we can be together" line. It doesn't work and Novella shoots Candice - for a movie called Eat which is, obviously, about eating, there are too many deaths by shooting. It doesn't seem to fit at all.
Once basically all of the characters (minus Tracy) are dead and Novella has clearly seen better days, she props herself up against a cabinet and stabs herself right in the chest. She doesn't stop there, though. She twists the knife around a bit to create a larger hole that can fit her hand. I suppose she figures, if she's going to go, she going to go satiated on her own flesh; she reaches into the hole in her chest and pulls out a piece of her heart and dies whilst chewing. Lovely.
To sum up...this movie had some interesting aspects to it: the actual skin-eating scenes were pretty rough and it actually attempted to cover autocannibalism, which isn't something one sees in a lot of horror movies. That being said, this movie almost felt more like a fetish movie with a slightly porny feel to it. The closest movie I could think to compare it to was Starry Eyes and that's simply because they are both about struggling actresses whose shit starts to go south, real quick. But, IMHO, Starry Eyes runs circles around this movie. Eat just wasn't fleshed out enough (pun was absolutely intended). It had an interesting premise and seemed to have a lot of pieces that seemed promising but just weren't put together in a way that felt cohesive. However, the movie itself seemed to be shot pretty well. There were a couple scenes, in particular, of her sitting alone on a casting couch, that I liked. As well as the shot of Novella lying on the floor of her bathroom, covered in blood - it was, actually, a beautiful shot. So I'd say I was more impressed with the production and effects than the script or the acting. But, to be fair, maybe the actors were just doing the best they could with the script they had. Who knows?
Here's a final image for you to go away with:
Would I recommend it? No, I don't think I would recommend this to most people. Those who are well-versed in horror movies or who have a penchant for gore may, indeed, like this movie.
What would I rate it? 2 stars
If you want to learn any more about Eat, here are a few ways to go about that: