In matters such as snitching on a best friend and tripping a runner in a track meet, many of us would not be willing to step on others to get ahead- but in a situation that is more life threatening than placing last in a race, what, or who, would you sacrifice to live just one day longer?
Screenwriter Steven Hentges asks this question of all who venture to watch the deeply disturbing psychological horror-thriller “Hunger”. Written in 2009 and produced as part of the “Fangoria Fright Fest: 8 Films to Die For” series, this gritty gaze into the limits of the human spirit details the struggle of five total strangers trying to keep a grip on their lives and their humanity as they battle their urge to feed in a twisted sociological experiment constructed by a cynical and chillingly collected scientist. Driven by the desire to vindicate his own actions during a traumatic accident, the scientist seeks to prove that given enough time, cannibalism manifests in even the best of society.
The victims slowly awaken to the sounds of each other’s desperate calls only to find that they’ve been stripped of all possessions and isolated at the bottom of a dank and dingy well-turned-dungeon. When they finally manage to feel their way through the thick darkness of the underground and into the enormous dried up well, they find only a few rusty drums full of water, five tin cups, a clock containing a hidden camera, and a scalpel wrapped in an ominous message: “The average human body can survive for only 30 days without food.”
While the horror of their situation dawns on them, the sadistically clinical scientist watches from the comfort of his den as his test subjects squirm under pressure and fatigue, becoming more desperate by the minute- all accept for Jordan (Lori Heuring, Wicked Little Things, The In Crowd), that is.
More of a battle of wills between the scientist and Jordan than anything else, Hentges focuses in on these two as polar opposites of the other, each on either side of the spectrum of self-preservation: Jordan the heroic champion of compassion and perseverance through fatigue and hunger, and the scientist as the stoic survivalist deeply unsettled by her resilience.
With only the barren bunker and impossibly high well to walk through, Hentges creates a sense of hopeless entrapment escapable only by death or somehow surviving the thirty day deadline. Holed up in the well, the entire area seems to take on a lunatic boxing ring feel, wracking you with anticipation as one of the now unstable prisoners stares at the surgical blade hungrily.
Altogether, the acting was a convincing mixture of fragile but lasting hope on the part of Heuring and Linden Ashby (Resident Evil: Extinction, Mortal Kombat) and the predatory murder that eventually burns in the eyes of Joe Egender (Boundaries, The Hamiltons) and his once reluctant followers.
While former construction worker, Grant (Ashby), diligently scrapes away at the walls, praying that there be some other way out of this hell, and Jordan tries to reason with the unreasonable, the others are planning the dinner menu. As the few lingering hopefuls cling to their sanity, the crazies are getting crazier, and the urge to shout profanities at the bloodthirsty madmen is almost unmanageable as you feel them corner the weakest and circle them like vultures.
Maddened by Jordan’s self-conviction, the scientist grows more perturbed with each passing day, hoping to break her spirit, yearning for her to just take a single bite of flesh. In a twist that brings you to the edge of your seat and leaves you hoping for Jordan to make it more than anything else, the movie ends on a bittersweet but not unsatisfying note.
Hunger is definitely a movie to be reckoned with- however, the random and almost entirely unexpected graphic sex scene took away from the quality of the overall product. It honestly didn’t improve the tone of the story or elaborate upon any part of the plot. It seemed as if they left it in purely out a need to fulfill the unspoken rule that requires every movie to portray some sort of carnality or maybe as some sort of attempt to grab at more of an audience. The issue wasn’t necessarily the content of even the explicitness of the scene, but rather it’s complete lack of relevance and the feeling one receives that it was simply cut and pasted into the film reel.
All in all, this film earns itself a 7 out of 10 for its suspenseful plot and its resistance to rely solely on gore to create a truly unnerving horror film. I would recommend this movie to anyone with a strong constitution and willingness to ask themselves just how far they’d be willing to go to survive.