RECOMMENDED AS WEIRD: FEED (2005)

DIRECTED BY: Brett Leonard

FEATURING: Alex O’Loughlin, Patrick Thompson, Gabby Millgate, Jack Thompson

PLOT: A psychopathic opportunist known as a “Feeder” enables bedridden, morbidly obese women to grow even more grossly overweight, to the point of immobility. As their caretaker, he keeps them alive, but gradually feeds them to death. All the while, he films them for a pornographic website and runs a deadpool based on their life expectancy. An Australian detective hacks the website and tracks the webhost to Ohio.

FEED

WHY IT SHOULD MAKE THE LIST: I found Feed to be one of the most interesting  horror movies that I have seen in awhile. It is not great art, but it is entertaining if one is not offended by the grotesque. Many find it too disturbing and repulsive to watch, and it is delightfully weird. Of course, I am a very sick girl in need of psychiatric help. (That’s OK—I have plenty of medicine).

COMMENTSFeed mixes mystery and suspense with a horrifying topic. It is  about a detective trying to unravel the enigma of a disturbingly perverse Internet fetish network. An Australian police investigator named Patrick Thompson (Jackson) travels to Ohio to find the source of what appears to be a clandestine Internet site for enthusiasts with a fetish for morbidly obese women, referred to as “gainers.” They are steadily fed a high calorie diet by the site administrator, Michael Carter (O’Loughlin) known in the industry as a “feeder.” The cop suspects that the bedridden women, some weighing over 500 pounds, are being held captive.

The investigator tracks down and confronts the feeder at his residence, but cannot find the clandestine set where the victims are confined. He does discover in the course of his investigation that women featured on the site end up as missing persons. He eventually discerns that Carter is literally feeding the women to death and feels compelled to locate the transmission site at any cost, regardless of U.S. law. The grotesque nature of the case, which leads the cop to analyze his own psycho-sexual dysfunctions, causes him to begin losing his sanity. In pursuing the feeder, he begins breaking the law himself with no regard for the consequences.

The feeder is a sexually tormented psychopath who is always a step ahead of his nemesis. He taunts the investigator while carrying out a far more devious and twisted scheme than the Aussie cop could ever suspect, including fattening up his own sister for the site. As the cop becomes entangled in this world of perversion, both he and the feeder start displaying inconsistent character traits. Their personalities disintegrate as they clash violently and a no-holds barred, high stakes cat and mouse pursuit ensues.

Feed is a graphic, fictitious film inspired by actual contemporary fetishes, and it ends as perversely as it does unpredictably. It delves into such dark unpleasantries as homosexuality, cannibalism, and incest, with graphic depictions of sex and extremely morbid nudity.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…genuinely perverse throughout, packed with nudity and deviant sex . . . the whole affair has the queasy air of a freak show, though to be fair, Leonard clearly employs the material as a direct challenge to the viewer’s own prejudices and as a tool for exploring notions of societal acceptance and hypocrisy, and of the fine line between abuse and consent.” -James Mudge, Beyond Hollywood

10 thoughts on “RECOMMENDED AS WEIRD: FEED (2005)”

  1. You’re a lot more charitable to this movie than I was. In fact, this movie topped my list of the worst movies I had seen in 2007, and I watched a lot of bad movies that year.

    I’m sympathetic to movies that cross all bounds of good taste, but I found this one sickening and insulting to boot. The “bad guy” was meant to be one of those evil geniuses like Se7en or (shudder) Saw, but he was clearly a deficient dream of the writer.

    I hated this film, and I don’t use the word “hate” lightly.

    The only good thing I can say about this movie is that the fat suit that lady wore was very convincing.

    1. Hi MOFO, thanks for the response. Your comments made me think. Hear me out, I have a number of things to say. Speak up again if you disagree because I am interested in being able to think critically about movies and I am learning. Here is some food for thought and further discussion.

      I have to wonder if whether A) you object to the movie because you think that the morbidity in FEED was simply there to be a gratuitously shocking, or B) had the film been deeper, you still would have objected to it because this particular form of the grotesque is the one that makes you wince?

      That out of the way, I want to make it clear that I follow no agenda of being a cheerleader for the movie. I would be reviewing conventional horror, sci-fi and surrealism but this is a site for weird movies. I personally liked it in spite of the grotesque scenes because it it was the first movie I had seen in a while that held my attention. I wanted to see where the mystery was headed, what the full nature of it was, and what would happen. I favored it because it snagged my imagination. I derive enough enjoyment from having my thought process stimulated that I tend to generously overlook flawed filmmaking.

      You are right in your “evil genius” observation. However had the villain been a boring nerd, he would not have gotten away with his scheme long enough for Detective Jackson to notice him. Also, Jackson needed an opponent who was amoral and resourceful, or there wouldn’t have been sustainable conflict. I don’t think that anybody but a perverted psychopath would feed fat women to death, sexually exploit them and take bets on their life expectancy.

      I do suspect that O’Loughin needed an idea for a suspense thriller and that to make it creepy, he used a grotesque fetish. With that in mind, I have two defenses and two criticisms of FEED.

      A) It made me question who has these sick fetishes and why. B) The film did call attention to the enigma of morbidly obese people wanting to be enabled to eat themselves to death. One has to presume that their enablers may be getting a sick thrill from the endeavor, because these victims would be unable to secure food on their own once they become immobile, or too fat to get through the bedroom door.

      Are the feeders titillated by the gainers’ conditions, or do they enjoy being depended on and having power over the gainers? They must take some sort of morbid delight in what they are doing because they have to tend to the gainers’ sanitary needs, which I understand, are quite spectacular. You don’t want to know the details, trust me. Just be glad the movie didn’t go into that area.

      Having thought about your response, I now have these criticisms of FEED: A) Writers Thompson and O’Loughlon missed a chance to actually explore what kind of people are so bored with conventional sex and pornography that they seek stimulation in the grotesque. Just who the hell masturbates to crushing videos for instance? B) What type of callous mentality is amoral enough to exploit deformities and severe character flaws such as overeating, for entertainment profit (besides true freak shows, and Sally Jesse Raphael?) I don’t want a morality play, but the film missed a chance to be a deeper, more interesting commentary about these personalities.

      This entire concept draws my attention to the cultural phenomenon of deriving entertainment from the sick shortcomings of others, as evidenced by the popularity of trashy TV tabloid shows. Along these lines, you have given me an idea for an essay, because I can think of additional forums that capitalize on society’s interest in the misfortune and misery of others. Perhaps 366Weird Movies will let me post such an essay here. In the meantime, see if you can find any flaws in my analysis and get back to me. I will be happy to explore the phenomenon further with you.

    2. Hi, Pamela!

      I hated Feed, but I hope I don’t come across as marring your review or interpretation of the movie. I reread the review along with your comments, and I think your line of thinking about the movie is quite interesting. Did you write that essay? All I’m saying is that I really did not like Feed.

      I do believe the film was meant to be gratuitously shocking, and on that level the film succeeds admirably. You are also right that if the movie had been deeper I would object to it less strenuously, and might have even enjoyed it. I’m fascinated with the extremities of the human condition. I can deal with perversity.

      My problem is that I do not think the film rises above its shock value. It tries by making the “villain” the stock character of the charming, intelligent psychopath. Except, as this film has no depth, he’s not. He’s a bad argument written by a less than stellar screenwriter.

      So this film is essentially a geek show. It’s deliberately repulsive, something I usually celebrate if there is more to it than “Look! So gross!”

      Clearly, this movie points to larger societal problems, mainly the extremity of sexual perversion. The movie starts with a castration/cannibalism scene that is a direct pull from actual events. And as you point out, there are other issues that can be explored here, such as the phenomenon of morbid obesity, or the soul-damaging ennui of the hardcore porn addict. (Did you know there is an entire sub-genre of porn dedicated to people eating tiny Smurf-sized women?)

      There is a wealth of disturbing concepts here, enough to make a truly horrifying movie. Unfortunately, Feed is not that film. It’s an exploitation flick, a shameless cash-grab (but for whose money?).

      Then again, it’s sparked this conversation, so maybe it’s not as bad as all that. I still don’t ever want to see it again.

  2. I must say its surprising to read a review like this. I thought I was all alone even remotely liking this film.
    I got it for free with a mail-order, and I left it laying there for many months thinking: “This is just going to gross me out…Im NOT going to watch it!”.

    I watched…I said, Meh, it was OK.

  3. Pamella, the society’s interest in the misfortune and misery of others is really a serious problem in all cultures. Have you abandoned the idea of writing the essay? Or there is no more interest regarding the problem on your part? I’m afraid there is any certain column at 366Weird Movies for the essay though.

  4. Pam, or anyone else, is certainly welcome to publish an essay if they want, as long as it’s related in some way to weird movies. She has a very full slate though, and it’s amazing that she posts as much here as she does.

  5. Irene, thank you for your response. I do have some scattered observations on the matter, although I am no authority. I need to do some homework before I take a stab at pontificating on the phenomenon. The subject does continue to pique my interest.

    The more I think about it, the more I become aware of what a broad subject we are dealing with. We could touch upon anything from the Roman Colosseum to Mel Brook’s famous explanation of the strange duality between comedy and tragedy: “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.” Perhaps we can lay the groundwork for an analysis here in this forum by commencing a discussion. What aspects of society finding entertainment in the misery or misfortune of others intrigue or appall you the most?

    Readers?

  6. “What aspects of society finding entertainment in the misery or misfortune of others… appall you the most?”

    The Human Centipede.

    More specifically, any movie in which a sufficiently gross or sadistic concept is considered an acceptable substitute for basic plot and characterization (never mind thoughtfulness of any sort). If we’re determined to be dumb as a society, we might as well be dumb and prosocial, rather than dumb and antisocial.

  7. Pamela, my latest suggestion, “The Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus” seems to be right in the alley of the topic though. I’ve just watched the movie. :)

  8. Being a feeder I totally hated this film as did my feedee wife of 12 years. I guess I expected it to portray feederism in a realistic light and not as some disgusting over the top foray into a fantasy world where guys who like fat chicks are evil predators (stupid me). It’s obvious that the makers of this film weren’t interested in realism and only went for cheap, gross out, in your face, shock value. To be honest I guess it was required in order to get people to watch this pile of trash. If the film actually portrayed what feederism is really all about and its actual practice audience goers would have been bored to tears after the first 15 mins. At the very least they could have used a real fat chick instead of the neoprene coated vomit spewing thing the producers chose to go with. It was even less realistic looking than Martin Lawrence’s portrayal of Big Mama. All in all it was an unwatchable film; from its ridiculous storyline and less than cheesy script and acting to its incredibly sub-par make-up and special effects. For me it was tortuously hard to watch and it wasn’t because of the grotesque nature of visuals it was just bad, bad, bad film making

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *