By Brent Moore | November 24, 2006

“Live Feed” represents a lot of what is wrong with horror movies today.

First off, it is completely devoid of originality. Like so many other horror flicks this chooses to go the easy route and copy a recently successful film instead of treading its own path. The victim here is Eli Roth’s “Hostel”. “Live Feed” so blatantly rips off that film you can’t help but shake your head in disbelief.

The story is this. A group of young friends take a trip overseas to party and have sex. While there they come upon a porno theater/sex club that turns out to be a front for the local mob’s sadistic torture shows. The kids are captured, tortured, and killed while the mob boss enjoys the show through live video feeds in each room. The location was moved from “Hostel’s” Eastern Europe to China but the aesthetic change isn’t enough to distance “Live Feed” from its predecessor.

Secondly, this movie continues the trend of trying to pass off torture and violence as plot. Too many horror films rely on how many limbs they can cut off instead of giving us a story or characters that we care about. “Hostel” was a movie about torture, but it had an interesting premise, likable characters that develop over the course of the movie, style, and humor. “Live Feed” is simply about the torture. It gives us a group of undeveloped and, even worse, unlikable characters and immediately throws them in a situation where they are brutalized one after the other. There is no story here.

The one area where the film succeeds is in its gore, which makes sense since that is the sole purpose of the thing. Director Ryan Nicholson has a long history in special effects makeup and that experience shows. This is stuff you’d expect to see in a big budget horror film and it was quite surprising to see that quality here. Some of the stuff they come up with is pretty brutal (especially one completely unbelievable kill involving a live snake) and definitely not for the weak hearted.

Nicholson’s skills as a director don’t quite match his skills in special effects, though. The whole movie is poorly edited and he leaves central characters off screen for long periods of time. The ending is a mess. The final stand off is awkwardly staged and shot and the last scene is a failed attempt to end the movie on an emotional and somewhat artistic note.

If you just love gore then maybe you should give “Live Feed” a shot but everyone else should steer clear, or, better yet, go rent “Hostel”.

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