CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS
It is nice to see that in the world of low budget film making, while many first timers and struggling directors are content to churn out thin variations on existing formulae that have already gone before, others in exactly the same position are at least trying to make something different, something unusual, something we haven’t seen a hundred times already and invariably better. It would be so tempting to settle for, say, a simple cheerleader slasher movie or another found footage exercise or yet more dimwit teens wandering round a spooky house, that it becomes a minor point of celebration when somebody has higher ambitions than that. Even if they don’t strike gold every time, at least they’re working in territory that hasn’t been mined to exhaustion already.
Jimmy Weber’s first feature Eat is a good example: an amusing little horror oddity put together perfectly well on a very small scale. On the eve of quitting the Hollywood auditions circuit after several years without any success, and with no money left in the bank, struggling actress Novella McClure (Meggie Maddock) suddenly succumbs to a bizarre stress-related craving: the consumption of her own raw flesh. It starts simply, just gnawing at a slightly twisted fingernail (as we all do from time to time), but it steadily leads to her taking larger and larger bites from her hands, feet and arms. Diagnosed as self harming, she ends up in an ill-advised relationship with her analyst. But when that goes awry her urges become stronger…
In its depiction of the tawdry shallows of the Hollywood bit part pool, with the horrible bitchiness of hopeful wannabes begging for whatever scraps the sleazy and exploitative producers might care to toss towards them, Eat is rather good fun and brings to mind films like Starry Eyes (oddly enough, the trailer for Starry Eyes plays at the start of the DVD). It’s also entirely convincing as Los Angeles even though it was shot entirely in Denver, Colorado. The physical gore effects are uncomfortably icky as Novella’s madness deepens: though never as painful as Contracted or, with the exception of one genuinely horrible moment, as thoroughly revolting as in, say, Thanatamorphose (for me still the high-water mark of recent onscreen disgust).
The main problem with Eat is actually Novella’s best friend Candice (Ali Francis), who just seems worryingly casual and blasé about bloodshed and violence, with the result that the bodies stack up quite quickly towards the end. She just seems too comfortable with killing people and it can’t only be down to her friendship with Novella. Other than that, it’s quite enjoyably dark (there’s a terrifically humiliating audition sequence) with some nice comedy touches and horrible look-away effects work. Not great, but certainly worth seeing.