The Movie Waffler New Release Review - CRAVING | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - CRAVING

Craving review
A group of drug addicts are terrorised by masked strangers.

Review by Sue Finn

Directed by: J. Horton

Starring: Felissa Rose, Kevin Caliber, Ashley Undercuffler, Holly Rockwell, Al Gomez

Craving poster

In 1998, two detectives are investigating a disturbance at a truck stop bar in the middle of nowhere. The walls are decorated with blood splatter and a survivor of whatever happened cowers in the corner similarly coated in blood.

"What happened here?" one of the detectives ask, and then unfolds the story of what happened "The Night Before."

It's a quiet night of aimless flirting and AA badge-flashing at the bar, until there's some gunfire outside which signals the death of our first victim (horror royalty Felissa Rose of the infamous Sleepaway Camp briefly features here).

A dubious "family" of drug addicts infiltrates the bar claiming that they are also victims, though they are holding guns in the faces of the patrons, so it's hard to understand exactly what's going on.

Craving review

They barricade themselves inside and then it becomes clear that there's another group of people outside after some kind of retribution, demanding "the killer" be given to them.

We spend time with the different factions, some more violent than others, some more "junkie" than others, before the inevitable pace change (we have all seen From Dusk til Dawn) and things get bloody.

With a reported budget of $100,000, writer/director J. Horton wrings every last drop of blood from the proceedings, and so if what you want is gore you might be in luck, as this is an exercise in excessive bloodshed and body parts flying around the room. They must have burned through the corn syrup!

Craving review

However, the set-up didn't really work for me. I personally don't enjoy films set in one room/one location/one night. There are notable exceptions of course, but they are mostly comedies. This one setting goes well with its one-dimensional characters, and even though the set design by Kristin Soghmonyan is nicely gritty, it's tedious to watch.

There are scenes of utter absurdity - such as the lesbian couple (who understand each other perfectly even though they never speak each other's language) laying post coitally like a jeans commercial as one tells a completely pointless story that does nothing for the pacing; the shot where one character lovingly cradles another character's face but when the camera angle changes they aren't even close enough to hold hands; or the guy in the cowboy hat whose entire role is basically looking shocked. This is padded out with flashbacks but in fact, the get-to-know-you backstories do nothing but stop the action short and take you out of the main thrust of the film, which is too convoluted and overpopulated with characters anyway.

Craving review

This is a film of pluses and minuses: the transformation scene is well done but marred by lackluster reactions from the cast; the deaths are gory but not particularly believable or easy to see; the bar setting is wonderfully realised but then we rarely leave it; and why set it in 1998 if you're not going to fully embrace that era with some spot-on '90s styling or music? It felt like a missed opportunity to me.

Some of the acting is better than expected, particularly by Holly Rockwell, Ashley Undercuffler and Xavier Roe, but a few decent performances are not enough to save this jumbled movie where my favourite part was the stylised end credits - if only the rest of the movie had had the same vibe.
It's a no from me.

Craving is on UK/ROI VOD now.

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