(A.k.a. LIVE-IN FEAR)
Two young couples - Seth (David Lautman) and Becca (Sarah Greyson); Eric (Chris Dorman) and Mallory (Arielle Brachfeld) - drive out to the snowy mountains of Utah for a short break at Seth's grandparents' old retreat.
The journey is fraught from the off. Seth tells a ghost story to his passengers as they struggle to keep comfortable during the lengthy drive. Upon arrival, Seth is sure he fleetingly sees his recently deceased mother in the distance.
Then there's Mama (Nancy Wolfe), a stern-faced hulk of a woman who runs the maintenance of the surrounding buildings. Her greeting to the quartet is as frosty as it could possibly be. And why does axe-wielding groundskeeper Ferry (Myles Cranford) seem so insistent that the group should leave as soon as possible?
It's not long before the group's internal problems begin to show. Eric is secretly back on the booze after having successfully stayed off it for the last year. Becca keeps rushing to the bathroom to vomit, for reasons that will later become clear. Mallory self-harms. And Seth? Well, Seth won't let anyone look in his travel bag with good reason...
When the group settle down to watch an old VHS tape found in the condo, Seth is alarmed to find it contains an image of his mother speaking directly to him. It's not the last time he'll see her over the course of the weekend.
As creepy sounds increase, sinister shadows race across walls and paranoia prevails, each group member succumbs more and more to their own foibles. But then things get a little stranger, with Eric seemingly possessed by something unseen...
At 77 minutes in length, CONSUMPTION moves along at an agreeable pace. That it manages to do this while focusing on credible characterisation is some feat, especially when you consider this was writer-director Brandon Scullion's feature debut.
Shot in 2012, the premise may sound familiar but this is actually an enjoyably unpredictable film. Decent performances benefit the thoughtful script, creating protagonists who feel a lot more real, a great deal more identifiable, than most genre fodder of late. Such attention to human concerns serves the film well come the bizarre final act, which fuses religious fanaticism with demonic possession to rousing effect.
Along the way, special mention is deserved to Scullion's ambient score, his frequently inventive camerawork and Matthew Espenshade's frequently stunning cinematography. The snowy landscapes are utilised expertly.
CONSUMPTION was shot on a Canon 7D digital HD camera and looks great. It's full of atmosphere, maintains an impressively bleak tone throughout and sets out to scare its audience - which it kind of achieves.
Shortcomings are mainly due to budget (the manner in which the dialogue was recorded is an obvious area for criticism). Don't let that put you off though: this is well worth a watch.
Left Films bring Scullion's film to UK DVD, uncut and in its original 2.35:1 ratio. The picture is 16x9 enhanced. Images are sharp and clean, darker scenes are noise-free, the snowy day scenes look superb. There's little room for complaint here.
The English 2.0 audio sounds fair, but I do need to refer you back to the problematic moments of dialogue - where it's either low and muffled in the mix, or partially obscured by background noise. These instance aren't too frequent, but regular enough to bring attention to.
A static main menu page leads into an animated scene selection menu which affords access to the film by way of 10 chapters.
Bonus materials begin with an engaging audio commentary track from Scullion. He begins by revealing that, contrary to whatever you may read online, the budget was just $5,000.00 (IMDb claims the film cost $3 million!). Filming in Utah at his grandparents' condo apartment, he admits that filming night scenes was an ordeal because of the biting weather conditions, speaks candidly about arguments on shoot and the awkwardness he felt during the direction of a "sexy time" scene, and is honest enough to point out the bits of the film that he really feels don't work (primarily the audio, a lot of the dialogue being re-recorded after the fact and overdubbed onto the completed movie). "Some of this even looks like an actual film" he quips shortly before revealing he was barely functioning while making this, his maiden feature.
Next up is an enjoyable 11-minute Behind The Scenes featurette. This is shot in a fly-on-the-wall style, revealing the shoot to be an uncomfortable but good-natured one. The director narrates over a montage of footage and stills.
The film's original trailer moves at a frenzied pace during its well-edited 1-minute running time.
We also get previews for BIND, THE DEVIL'S WOODS, JONAH LIVES, ABANDONED DEAD and THE HORROR NETWORK. The disc is defaulted to open with trailers for the latter two titles.
I enjoyed CONSUMPTION. I look forward to seeing what Scullion can do with a bigger budget.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by Left Films|
|see main review|