• Famine (Unearthed Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Unearthed Films
    Released on: December 17th, 2019.
    Director: Ryan Nicholson
    Cast: Karyn Halpin, Nathan Durec, Glenn Hoffmann, Christopher Patrick Donoghue, Beth Cantor, Michelle Sabiene, Christine Wallace
    Year: 2011
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    Famine – Movie Review:

    Directed and co-written by Vancouverite Ryan Nicholson, who sadly passed away earlier this very year, 2011’s Famine is a low budget slasher comedy, with an emphasis on comedy, Famine opens with the arrival of the new girl at school, Cathy (Beth Cantor). She bends over a lot and when she does, we look down her top. She’s also a clutz, but she’s a hot clutz so the guys around Sloppy Secondary don’t seem to mind so much. They’ve also got an eye on the new teacher, Ms. Vickers (Michelle Sabiene), who likes to strut about in a short black dress, stockings and heels. In fact, pretty much all of the girls at Sloppy Secondary are hot – save for poor Jenny (Christine Wallace), who is the butt of everyone’s jokes.

    As the movie begins, Vickers is getting ready to chaperone the school’s twenty-four-hour famine event, a charity fundraiser for the hungry wherein participants lock themselves in the school and go without food for an entire day. As various students bicker and argue with one another, some stashing food in the girls’ restroom to use later that night, someone dressed as ‘Nailer,’ the school mascot, is going about murdering people in reasonably grisly ways. It all ties back to the story of Mr. Balszack (Nathan Durec), the dreamy physed teacher who was killed in a freak accident two years ago at the school’s last famine event. Meanwhile, a creepy janitor with a blatantly vaginal looking wound on his right cheek skulks about, an irritating jock named Nick (Christopher Lomas) and his pals make bad, crass jokes and the strangely Germanic principal, Principal Nielson (Glenn Hoffmann), tries to keep everything in check.

    Famine shines when people are getting killed. Nicholson, who made quite a name for himself doing effects work on A-list films and B pictures alike, brings a lot of experience with fake gore to the picture and here, given that he has free reign, he goes for it. This isn’t as disturbing as some of his other pictures are, the emphasis, again, is on comedy more than horror, but the gore effects are well-done and quite plentiful. The effects are done well and the highlight of the movie.

    As to the comedy? The jokes are predictable and the characters oversexed and underwritten. Nicholson might have been going for a Troma-esque vibe with this one, but where Kaufman’s crass genre mashups usually at least contain some clever social commentary, Nicholson, with this project, is content to keep things base and crass and simply leave it at that. Pretty much all of the characters are annoying enough that we want them to get slaughtered – making the death scenes strangely therapeutic in a way (hey, none of this is real, alright?) – but it’s entertaining enough to watch, even if it never tries for depth.

    Production values aren’t bad at all for a low budget indie slasher. The cinematography is quite good, there are some interesting angles chosen here, and while some may take issue with the heavy metal score, for this writer it worked and added to the murder set pieces’ over the top tone.

    Famine – Blu-ray Review:

    Unearthed Films brings Famine to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.78.1 widescreen on a 25GB disc. This was clearly shot digitally almost ten years ago so there are no problems with any dirt, debris or print damage. Detail is good but stops short of amazing. There is some minor banding visible here and there but you won’t likely notice it if you aren’t looking for it. Colors are handled well, though there is some crush in some of the darker scenes. Otherwise, no complaints, for a modestly budgeted indie production, Famine looks more than decent enough on this disc.

    The English language DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track sounds pretty good. There are occasional moments where the dialogue is a bit muffled but thankfully these are uncommon. The metal soundtrack kicks in pretty nicely whenever someone gets murdered and the track is nicely balanced and free of any hiss or distortion. There are no alternate language options here nor are there any subtitles offered.

    Aside from a still gallery and a trailer for the feature, we also get trailers for Collar (also directed by Nicholson), Dark Side Of The Moon, Nightwish, The Song Of Solomon and The Unnamable as well as menus and chapter selection.

    Famine – The Final Word:

    Famine is as low brow as they come, a crass and gory slasher comedy with some great kills and, well, frankly annoying (though frequently quite attractive) characters. Unearthed Films’ Blu-ray release is light on extras but it looks and sounds pretty solid, all things considered.

    Click on the images below for full sized Famine Blu-ray screen caps!