Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Destined to make you look at the clock

Destined to Be Ingested (aka "Holocaust Holocaust") (2010)
Starring: Kitty Cole, Kris Eivers, Noshir Dalal, Theodore Bouloukos, Manuel Fihman, Suzi Lorraine, Bill Weeden, and Randall Heller
Director: Sofian Khan
Rating: Four of Ten Stars

In 1987, four Yuppies (Bouloukos, Cole, Eivers, and Lorraine) were stranded on a South Island. The title of the film gives away part of what happens next--and even if it didn't... has there ever been a south sea island that wasn't home to cannibals or people-eating monsters?--but it won't prepare viewers for the Tarazan-esque love story, nor the arrival of the zombies.

First off, let me admit that I may be ill-equipped to review this film. I may even be committing the sort of Reviewing Deadly Sin that I ranted about in this article(and numerous others), because I have seen very few of the movies in the cannibal horror/jungle savage subgenre this movie belongs to,and I've reviewed even fewer.

And that could be the reason why I'm not entirely sure how I was supposed to take "Destined to Be ingested". The title and the preview for the film both scream comedy, but the execution is straight-laced and so restrained that I can't help but think it was intended to be viewed as a straight horror movie, perhaps even a homage to films like "Cannibal Holocaust" and "Slaves of the Mountain God". The fact its set during the 1980s--when many such films were being made--can be used to support either approach, as can the sound mixing. Like many films where quick and cheap dub jobs were done, the dialogue is crystal clear and obviously recorded in studio; either the filmmakers were doing it intentionally, or the soundtrack needed to be mixed better.

Whether it's to be taken seriously as a homage to the cannibal and zombie pictures of the 1980s, or viewed as a spoof of those movies, the film's flaws are the same. First off, it takes entirely too long in getting to the violence and mayhem everyone knows is coming--nearly one-third of the movie's barely over an hour running-time. The movie spends one-third of its running time on setting up characters that never rise above the level of cliches, setting up sex scenes that we don't get to see because the scene cuts away, and setting the stage for some of the most tepid violence you'll ever see in a horror flick featuring cannibals (unless the Hallmark Channel decides to make one).

But even when it gets going, it moves in fits and starts. We have a burst of violence and suspense as the cannibals make their first attack on the hapless Yuppies, but then we're treated to another stretch of nothing... where boring characters wander around doing boring things. Even though in theory there are vicious cannibals in loin clothes and body paint lurking nearby, we get the feeling that the greatest threat facing the characters is that they'll run out of beer before they are rescued.)

It isn't until one of the cannibals falls in love with Kitty Cole's character in violation of the traditions of this culture, and gets her knocked up, that the film starts to get interesting. By this time, however, the film's well over half gone, and there's really no saving it. It gets even more interesting with the hints dropped about the background of the cannibal tribe's chief, but nothing at all ends up coming from that.

The film's one redeeming feature is the way it introduces the zombie aspect. As I do with the vast majority of films I watch and review, I came to this one with no real knowledge of what it contained beyond a little blurb supplied by the distributor. I truly did not see the zombies coming, until they were chowing down on the cast members. (Yes, they're set up their arrival through ominous dialogue about the village being cursed because of Kitty Cole becoming a baby mama instead of a human sacrifice/finger food, but I hadn't expected the curse to be manifested as zombies.)

Unfortunately, the zombies also come to represent the film's biggest inconsistency and the most clear example of how its various pieces--cannibal horror, love story, zombie rampage--don't quite fit together. It's hinted that the cannibal chief is a product of a forbidden union, just like the child his son's outsider love will give birth to. But if this is the case, then why didn't the zombies destroy the village then? Did the curse come to be later? The film doesn't even provide a clue to that question, so as enlivening as the sudden appearance of zombies were, they ultimately end up making the experience of viewing this movie an unsatisfying waste of time... the only benefit you'll gain from this film is the opportunity to check your watch. First, you'll be looking to see if it's working because time seems to be passing slowly, and when the end credits start to roll, you'll be double-checking the movie's length, because it has to be longer than an hour. (It's not, though.)

And that's too bad, because "Destined to be Ingested" is actually a fairly well-done movie as far as the cinematography goes, and the acting is pretty decent all around. With a more focused and better developed script, this could have been a decent movie. (Unless I'm missing something, due to my basic unfamiliarity with the cannibal horror genre.)

"Destined to be Ingested" has been kicking around since 2008, but it will receive wide distribution on DVD through Midnight Releasing on October 5, 2010.

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