When a film is able to enter into your mind and chaotically mess with your psyche, you know you have something special. Sitting in the Alamo Drafthouse Theater for the Austin Film Festival, I knew not what to expect from Steven Hentges' long in-development project, Hunger. A little over 100 minutes later, I left knowing that for the first time since the original Saw, I had witnessed a horror movie that was so intense and psychologically clever, that few words can accurately describe the affects.
Led by Lori Heuring and Linden Ashby, Hunger tells the story of five complete strangers, all of whom wake up to realize that they have been kidnapped and left in a dark room with no instructions and no idea of their whereabouts. Upon further inspection, the group begins to realize that they have become part of a science experiment, one that will test their will to live when their nourishment is no longer provided. Will their humanity stay intact? Or will they begin to fend for themselves? Those questions and more lie awaiting with a few tubs as water, as all five victims attempt to outlast the clock and survive their ill-fated futures.
For starters, the premise itself is so ingenious and original, that it is hard to think that this idea has yet to find its way onto the big screen. Taken from a winning script from the annual Slamdance Film Festival screenwriting competition, the story is the backbone to this chilling tale, giving it the power to enter your mind, and aimlessly wreak havoc.
The cast, made up of only six 'main' actors, is cohesive in nearly every move. From Heuring and Ashby's kid-like love affair to Kohl's silent and disturbing demeanor, there is little that doesn't happen between the four walls that have become their home. And as minds begin to race, paranoia begins to set-in, and for the first time in a long time, I began to dread the inevitable. Sure there is hope (as with any scripted film), but seeing the deterioration of the characters, both mentally and physically, begins to weigh on your mind as you long for the torture to end. It is a special moment when a film affects your mind such as this one does; that moment should be savored for all that it is worth.
As the characters diminish in number, one by one, a revelation suddenly appears. Not only is the gore kept to a minimum, allowing for the psychological aspects of the story to take center stage; but the path of each character is brought out of the dark, allowing us all to examine their progression of starvation. The final outcome is heartbreaking as you feel you know each of these characters. Some you are sure to hate, a few you will love, but in the end, no one is safe from the hands of the others.
It is only proper that a mind game would prove to be the Achilles heel for our stars, as well as our lead villain. The final scene will have you itching to uncover the truth behind this murderous experiment, a truth that you might never be fortunate enough to discover. Nevertheless, Hunger is a brilliantly crafted film that deserves your attention, should it get its well deserved distribution deal and come to a theater near you!