The horror-comedy Feed Me, from a story idea by directors Richard Oakes and Adam Leader (who wrote the screenplay), finds the absurdity in an intense situation. Comedy abounds as the filmmakers dive deep into what makes a broken person want to stop living and those willing to assist. The question then is, do they successfully balance both tones and deliver an engaging motion picture?
Jed (Christopher Mulvin) is reeling from the death of his wife. While she suffered from mental health problems that strained their relationship, Jed loved Olivia (Samantha Loxley) very much. Feeling despondent, Jed meets the odd Lionel (Neal Ward), who offers him a way to see his love again — excruciating pain and death.
Specifically, Lionel is a sociopathic cannibal who wants to eat the grieving widower, with each meal bringing him closer to his deceased wife. Jed, adrift in a sea of anguish and heartbreak, agrees to let Lionel eat him. As fingers and limbs are chopped off and cooked, Jed doubts that this is what he actually wants. Complicating matters are two police officers (Anto Sharp and Nadia Lamin) investigating a disturbance at Lionel’s home.
Feed Me is bold, brash, in-your-face, and bloody good. However, two things might make viewers tune out right away. Well, that’s aside from the squeamish, who should not attend a screening, as the film is gruesome. For everyone else, the issues both revolve around Lionel. Ward wears a heinous, ill-fitting, matted wig for the entire runtime. On top of that, the actor’s exaggerated “Texan” accent (in the loosest possible sense) is more awkward and goofy than authentic and creepy. However, stick with it, as these are part of Lionel’s backstory and public persona. Granted, it takes an hour for this to come to light. By that point, the character could annoy audiences right out of the story.
“Jed, adrift in a sea of anguish and heartbreak, agrees to let Lionel eat him.”
But Ward gives the part 150%, being charismatic and fun in an appalling role. As such, one never questions how he draws Jed into his twisted scheme or why Alex (Hannah Al Rashid) is charmed by his odd antics. One will instantly feel Mulvin’s sorrow as the actor conveys so much with a glance or turn of his head. Mulvin and Ward play off each other well. So much so that all watching will believe the two are becoming actual friends, despite the horrific thing that bonds them.
Another aspect of Feed Me to be lauded is the grimy, squalid production design. Lionel’s place is a putrid, festering mess. Much like how The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is beloved for its atmosphere because it looks disgusting (the only reason that boring POS has fans), Oakes has crafted a lived-in world full of decay to the point where one can practically smell the reeking stench just by looking at any given scene.
But, perhaps most importantly, Oakes and Leader allow the drama of Jed’s story, the goofiness of Lionel, and messed up situation the leads are in to comingle without issue. As the plot wears on, it becomes evident that the cannibal is masking pain under his silliness. This adds an engaging dimension to both the character and the humorous moments. Jed’s spiral into depression is so raw viewers cannot help but be moved by it. Meanwhile, the carnage, mutilation, and blood are so potent and disgusting (see above paragraph) that the film is truly unnerving.
Feed Me mixes the scares, drama, comedy, and heart to great effect. While Lionel’s look and accent might turn some off, being intentionally bad, there’s a reason for it that works when all is said and done. The cast delivers where it counts and shares excellent chemistry. In addition, the production design is astonishing, adding a chilling atmosphere to the proceedings. Overall, Oakes and Leader have hit a horrifying home run.
"…a horrifying home run."