The Feed

Film review by Thomas M. Sipos

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The Feed  (2010, dir: Steve Gibson; scp: Matt Edens, Steve Gibson, Jon Nunan; cast: Seth Drick, Chip Facka, Brianna Healey)

 

 

 

 

Here comes yet another Blair Witch inspired "horror mocumentary" film. You know the formula. Some people bring video cameras to a spooky situation. They hope to return with a great news story, or documentary footage, or at least some fun home video shots of hanging out with friends. Instead, they're overwhelmed by dark and malevolent forces.

In The Blair Witch Project it was student filmmakers. In The Last Exorcism it was a documentary film crew. In Quarantine it was a TV news crews. In The Feed, it's the crew of "Ghost Chasers," a reality TV show that will broadcast their show -- live! -- as they investigate the reputedly haunted Brenway Movie Theater.

In horror mocumentaries, we only see events as they are recorded by the characters' cameras. That includes the static and electronic glitches caused by supernatural manifestations, and the shaky views from dangling or dropped cameras as the characters run for their lives.

That's why the film is called The Feed -- because all we see of the "Ghost Chasers" crew are the audio and video feeds they broadcast to us.

As in most horror documentaries, The Feed opens with cheerful optimism. The host of "Ghost Chasers" tells us about tonight's exciting episode. He cuts to a brief TV news report from 1996 (courtesy of a local station) about the theater's ominous history. Its 1920s heyday. Its destruction in the fire of 1940. A renovation, followed by reported hauntings. The mysterious murders in 1962. The theater's closure. Its reopening in the 1970s. The continuing rumors of ghosts...

Our host interviews chirpy, elderly patrons who recount the good old days when 25 cents bought you a movie ticket plus popcorn! He interviews the theater's owner. He cuts to TV promos and commercials (all parodies).

Yes, it takes a while for The Feed to pick up steam. The DVD box quotes Gregory L. Hall: "The final ten minutes are pure brutal horror goodness." True, but it takes a while to get to those ten minutes. There's a lot of exposition. After which, our "Ghost Chasers" crew spend a lot of time wandering about the dim theater, investigating without finding much of anything. Not at first. And not for a while.

Most of The Feed's 70 minutes (short for a feature) are spent establishing the "Ghost Chasers" show and parodying "true ghost-hunting" reality shows. The "Ghost Chasers" crew explain their ghost-hunting equipment to their TV viewers. They strive to sound skeptical. They methodically take meter readings of suspected theater seats, then mark those seats with masking tape.

 

 

 

I suspect The Feed's makers are huge fans of "true paranormal" reality shows, and had great fun parodying the subgenre. Their care in recreating the look and feel of these shows strengthened the film's dramatic premise, but also slowed the pace. I kept waiting for something to happen.

Much of the film is seen through nightvision green light. This allows the Ghost Chasers to conduct their explorations in darkness. (Apparently, ghosts are shy, and are less likely to manifest with the lights turned on.) But apart from strengthening the dramatic premise, the nightvision's green glow enhances the spooky atmosphere. This lighting was a good aesthetic choice.

The acting is superior to what you see in many grassroots indie horror films. Low-budget horror legend, Troma's Lloyd Kaufman (e.g., Mother's Day, Splatter University), has a cameo role as a sleazy lawyer whose TV commercial sponsors "Ghost Chasers."

Just as The Feed takes too long to get off the ground, it ends too quickly once the serious scares begin. I would have trimmed the exposition, and extended the final scary ten minutes. Still, the film is creepy and entertaining, offering a spooky atmosphere and admirable production values. Some gorehounds may lose patience with its slow pace and lack of blood, but fans of quiet, suspenseful ghost tales will likely enjoy the ride.

 

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