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Friday, June 24, 2022

Famine (2011)

Last year I covered director Ryan Nicholson’s Gutterballs for my annual slasher marathon. You can check out that review here. This year I thought I’d check his other slasher movie effort out.

Some high school “kids” are going to participate in an all-night lock in at the gymnasium. The event is to raise money for starving folks and is called Famine. Basically, they hang out and don’t eat for twenty-four hours. This is the first one they have had in five years when there was a terrible accident involving a popular teacher and a jar of acid. The students are locked in the school with a super-hot new teacher named Ms. Vickers, a creepy janitor, and a German principal that enjoys gay porn.

The night starts off fine with some bullying, bathroom sex, ripped shirt/wet t-shirts, and Jenny accidentally walking into the “splash zone”. Though a ditz Jenny is the only one that realizes people keep wandering off never to return. We know that they are being picked off one at a time in gruesome ways by a killer wearing the school’s mascot costume. Eventually the identity of the killer is revealed and a couple more bodies hit the floor. The end.

In my review of Gutterballs I mentioned that you can overdue the attempts to be exploitive and make your movie not fun to watch. With Famine we have what I think is a parody of the slasher genre. We have a cast that is clearly not young enough to be in high school. They quietly poke fun at this when they mention that five years later the folks who were at the last famine are still in High School. The characters like the principal, jock, ditzy girl, and nerd are also so over the top that they border on the absurd. I kind of like the idea of a movie like this poking fun at the genre and what we expect from it. This is far different from the super explicit and more twisted earlier Gutterballs. Unfortunately, this movie suffers from the same flaws that sank the previous flick for me.

The dialogue is crude. Know I don’t mind some “F” bombs here and there but when it is so over the top that the dialogue is impossible to follow and gets in the way of telling the story then it becomes an issue. I suppose what I’m trying to say is you still have to write clever dialogue and can’t just lean into “I can’t believe they used that word!” territory. Profanity and subject matter for the sake of shocking the audience doesn’t work on an old, jaded guy like me. For example, I dig the American Pie movies. They have a very memorable gag (pun not intended) with cum that is quite funny and gross. Here they have a guy spraying Jenny in the face when she interrupts a couple having toilet sex. One joke is setup and funny while the other is… meh at best. I guess that might make me a semen joke elitist and I’m okay with that.

Famine excels with the gore, which doesn’t surprise me. This is where Nicholson’s background as an effects guy really shines. There are an amazing fifteen kills in a movie that is barely an hour and fifteen minutes long. Some are offscreen, but we do get a railroad spike to the forehead, a melting teacher, a scalping, a dude steamed to death by an industrial dishwasher, and a throat slashing all on screen and in your face. The best executed kill and the most disturbing is some nipple carving and torture which is pushing it even for a slasher movie. But that is a credit to how well they execute the gag. If you are a gore hound, you will dig this movie.

Can I recommend Famine? While I enjoy the gore the dialogue and attempts at humor just didn’t do it for me. It almost feels like less of a movie and more of an effects reel. If you think the jokes might land better for you then sure give it a chance. You can’t go wrong with the effects work.


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