Director: Michael Rasmussen, Shawn Rasmussen
Writer: Michael Rasmussen, Shawn Rasmussen
Producer: Glenn Cooper, Roger Danchik, John Huberman
Stars: Andy Rudick, Victoria Nugent, Michael Scott Allen, Jonathan Thomson
A horror movie crew gradually succumbs to a mysterious darkness while filming a movie in an abandoned insane asylum.
Proclaiming “from the writers of John Carpenter’s The Ward” along the top of the box art does two things for “Dark Feed.” It desperately grabs at the name of a horror icon to provide an air of legitimacy, and it associates the filmmakers with one of the more poorly received films of that icon’s career. Neither of those are positive.
A film crew is on location in an abandoned asylum. This being a horror movie, said asylum has a sordid history of cruel experimentation on its patients and a reputation for dark mysteries. Those mysteries manifest as black ooze that seeps through the walls and affects everyone in the building. Gradually, the crewmembers descend into madness and begin turning on each other in evil ways.
Offering an explanation for the slime or for the maddening effects of the asylum walls is not high on the agenda. There is something about a suicide and a government conspiracy, even a brief reference to MKULTRA that goes mostly unexplored. As is common in similar films, the hospital mystery and its eerie dark ectoplasm are just sticks and carrots that excuse the characters to wander off and die, and generally not even in exciting fashion.
“Dark Feed” is what a “found footage” film might be like if the creators changed their mind before shooting and turned the script into a traditional movie. Although if it had been “found footage,” at least there would be a reason behind nothing interesting happening for the majority of the movie, since that is an accepted trope of the sub-genre. As it is, “Dark Feed” is a sleeping pill clothed as a movie that does little to rise from its own sticky black mess.
First time feature directors Michael and Shawn Rasmussen have their work cut out for them. While their script is no work of Shakespeare, its weaknesses are exposed due to a pace bearing the signature of untrained hands. Short gaps between line deliveries linger on uncomfortable acting and forgettable dialogue. (That dialogue includes such groaners as a lunatic in a nurse’s uniform exclaiming, “the doctor will see you now!”) A more experienced director and editor might have minimized collateral damage with tighter cuts and increased coverage.
Being that the Rasmussens both wrote and directed “Dark Feed,” it is curious that they did not seem to rewrite the script after seeing the actual sets and cast with which they would be working. The result is that the characters appear to be in another reality because they reference their film in ways that make little sense given what is shown. One production assistant tells the writer that he cannot help her carry a heavy box because of “union rules.” Forgetting for a moment that production assistants do not have a union, the idea that this low budget movie shooting in the basement of an abandoned building with a 10-person crew would be a union production is insultingly laughable.
Another crewmember then has an inexplicable nerdgasm upon entering the “FX Room,” shrieking, “Oh Wow! Oh wow!” as if he has stumbled into Tom Savini’s secret lair of movie magic. Except this “FX Room” is nothing more than a shelf with half a dozen plastic props from a Halloween store and a pair of fake blood bottles. And it is unclear if the producer is serious or joking when he claims his no-name lead actors threatened to walk if they were not provided with trailers, requiring him to build them “fancy dressing rooms” in a slime-filled cellar.
The credits list over 20 different characters in the film. Had I been challenged to name even one of them after watching the movie under penalty of losing my hands, I would have been unable to type this review. The majority of the cast members are missing notable credits from their resumes, and it is a coin flip if adding this film to the back of their headshots will be a plus or a minus. As green as the performances are, it may not matter given the thin characterizations. The director and writer characters in particular are completely unbelievable for either of those professions. With matching plain white button down shirts and personalities of pocket lint, they are only distinguishable by the different colors to their khaki trousers.
First time directors have to start somewhere, but they are at a disadvantage when surrounded with a cast and crew equally lacking in experience. Working from a script about a film crew in an abandoned asylum is not starting off on an original foot, either. “Dark Feed” would be more forgivable if it were 1983, but the limitations of this underdone effort require a different standard in 2013. This is one of the more forgettable horror movies in recent memory.
Review Score: 25