Saturday, September 24, 2016

In short: Eaters (2015)

A bunch of friends are on a road trip. Somewhere in the loneliest part of New Mexico, they pause at the wrong rest stop. One of the female members of the group doesn’t return form her personal toilet stop. Her friends, particularly her boyfriend, are quick to assume she has been kidnapped by the only other people who were at the rest stop, a quartet of bikers.

So off they go in hot pursuit of the bikers which turns into a Mexican stand-off. Unfortunately, apart from making some armed hairy (or rather adorably bewigged) men really angry, the whole thing comes to nothing for our protagonists, for their friend isn’t loaded into the bikers’ drug transporter.

Further investigation – and an empty gas tank – lead them to a ghost town, which will turn out to be the place their friend was taken to. Unfortunately, it’s populated by a bunch of mute, pillowcase mask-wearing cannibals. To make matters mildly more complicated, the little altercation earlier wasn’t the last our heroes will hear of the bikers either.

The Internet really seems to hate Johnny Tabor’s micro-budget Eaters quite a bit (with the usual bunch of people who clearly don’t watch many movies declaring it to be the worst horror film evah, or something of the sort); me, I found myself enjoying the film more than I expected.

Now, Eaters has some obvious problems: the acting is rough around the edges at best, and often just not terribly good, and its plot certainly is the sort of thing I’ve seen a couple of dozen times before. However, Tabor is a pretty effective director. At the very least, Eaters is better paced than this sort of thing on this sort of budget generally turns out to be, clearly made by someone who realizes that scenes need to have a function in a narrative and should end once that function is fulfilled (unless you’re Jess Franco or somebody else who just doesn’t care about traditional structure at all and turn this into your personal style).

The pacing’s reasonably effective, and the film generally gets a bit of mileage out of feeling like one of the lesser, locally produced grindhouse movies of the 70s, with the desert and the ghost town providing some instant atmosphere, as do the pillowhead-style of the main baddies, the lack of explanation for their existence (or really, of what they actually are apart from cannibals), and direction that usually aims not to be boring.

It’s not the great lost horror masterpiece of 2015 but I think it’s a perfectly decent film.

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