Welcome to the Longpig, an exclusive restaurant that specialises in "cannibal cuisine". We first get a glimpse inside its premises after hours one evening, when the chefs are busy preparing the next day's meals: bludgeoning naked abductees and then proceeding to hack off their limbs in graphic detail.

It's a family business, overseen by a patriarchal figure until he makes the unwise move of trying to sell off the restaurant to a Vietnamese acquaintance. His son Steven (Terry Chen) takes exception to this, promptly dispatching of his father and taking over the running of the place with the help of his sexy, insatiable assistant Yuki (Alyson Bath).

The main storyline begins six months later. In that time, Steven has turned the restaurant into a roaring success where naked girls pole-dance while wealthy clients choose which live captive they wish to see battle to the death in the building's underground fight-club cages, before feasting on their freshly cooked cadavers. As the Longpig's secret password for customers suggests, "You are what you eat".

We're introduced to a group of youths who practice martial arts in public places, filming their carefully choreographed scraps in the hope of attracting thousands of hits on YouTube. The linchpin - and only female - of this group is Jenna (Laci J Mailey), whose dad runs the local gym where they all like to practice their moves. One evening Jenna discovers her father and sister Sheila (Kristy Dinsmore) have disappeared.

With the help of her arrogant beau Nash (Sebastian Gacki) and quieter admiring pal Pete (Curtis Lum), Jenna vows to find them. Only trouble is, before the night is out she and her two suitors are also abducted ... and find themselves in the Longpig's dingy basement prison, along with Jenna's missing family members.

Can they survive the hulking brutes trained to fist-fight them to death for the entertainment of paying customers on the ground floor? And can the remaining members of their martial arts crew, led by tough-talking Tyrone (Alain Chanoine) find out where their mates have gone in order to help mount a daring rescue mission?

EVIL FEED starts frenetically, all loud upbeat music and slick editing techniques, and seldom lets up during its 85-minute running time. The pace, the cool characters with their own signature tunes, and the rapid-fire wise-cracking dialogue all reeks of the Tarantino/Rodriguez school of "Grindhouse". The aesthetics, meanwhile, all deep colours, darkened hallways, unrelenting gore and perfectly toned female bodies, strongly echoes those of Eli Roth's first two HOSTEL films.

At first I found the frantic pace, forced comic strip-style characters (everyone is either ultra-hip, psychotic or both) and stylised red-hued direction somewhat off-putting. But there's an energy and goodwill to director Kimani Ray Smith's film that gradually won me over. At the end of the day, the film is entertaining. It's never dull, it's refreshingly unpretentious and it never skimps on the blood or boobies.

The fight scenes are well-staged, but a tad flashy in a manner that imply this is Smith's calling card for Hollywood to sit up and take notice of the aspiring Canadian's talents. He certainly does have talent too, directing combat action and grisly set-pieces with equal amounts of gusto, while ensuring every single scene oozes with cartoonish style. One thing he hasn't quite mastered yet is how to spin a cohesive yarn: there's too many characters being introduced throughout EVIL FEED, unnecessarily fleshing it out with sub-plots concerning a rival restaurant owner (Carrie Genzel), a truly irritating British gambler (David Milchard), a Russian businessman (Doug Abrahams) ... the list goes on.

These distractions aside, the film's biggest flaw is its attempts at comedy: it's rarely funny, just juvenile. It's a shame, because the opening scenes suggest that this could've been a true cult classic if its tone had just been a couple of shades darker.

Still, frequent action, surprisingly good production values and an almost constant barrage of tits 'n' gore ensure EVIL FEED is never dull. The practical gore FX are proficient too. Highlights include one unwitting diner chowing down on a friend's deep-fried penis; another character having his face pummelled in a sequence that resembles Jared Leto's bashing in FIGHT CLUB, then getting his throat slashed and his face torn off; Yuki's backside. Yes, that last bit's terribly sexist of me, I agree - but I defy you not to find it very impressive too.

Shot on the Red Epic camera in HD, EVIL FEED is framed at 2.35:1 and consequently looks very cinematic indeed. Rich colours, sharp visuals and deep blacks combine to give the film a great sheen worthy of most modern-day theatrical releases.

This screener disc presented the film alone - no extras, no menus - with the film in a highly attractive 16x9 presentation and with decent English 2.0 audio. A novel press release came in the form of a fold-out Chinese takeaway menu proffering delicacies such as Special Chow Brain and Kung Po Flesh. It was a nice touch by distributors Solo Media, and one that matches the film's level of wit quite accurately.

EVIL FEED is out now on demand and Digital (VOD).

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Solo Media
Region 2 - PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review