- Rev Horror
Dir. Jason Horton (2023)
Mysterious strangers besiege a bar filled with heroin addicts, and the night that follows reveals that the strangers are even more dangerous than they appear.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Since the beginning of horror, creature features have been fan favorites that are often people’s introduction to the genre. Whether it’s werewolves, killer animals, or Japanese kaiju, monster movies are always fun options when you just want to watch an entertaining movie. The level of seriousness involved in the film can vary wildly, with a lot of monster movies being campy romps with inane dialogue (especially the classics from the 50’s and 60’s) and a precious few films that are meant to be taken as an exploration of something deeper. Jason Horton’s new film Craving is one of the latter, an exploration of addiction, the monsters within, and the lengths that people will go to protect their family.
The film opens with the aftermath of a bar after what was clearly a busy night. Two cops are investigating with guns drawn, clearly taken aback at the chaos and carnage that lies before them. There are entrails spread around the floor and a bloodied woman huddled in the corner amongst the wreckage, puzzling the police officers and the audience alike. Thankfully, the action quickly shifts to the night before, where questions are asked and, at times, answered, and the plot begins to unfold through a series of mysterious sequences and flashbacks from the lives of various characters. Eventually, a group of strangers enter the bar and take the patrons hostage, and we find that they are running from a gang of masked vigilantes who are out for their blood.
The movie is fairly slow throughout most of the runtime, and the plot can be a little confusing at times as well. There are a lot of flashbacks that get us to present day, and the pieces definitely do come together before all is said and done. The neon color palettes of the film, created cleverly by shutting off the lights inside the bar itself, is used very effectively and really helps the ending of the film to shine. The acting is at least decent throughout, with some of the actors actually doing a fantastic job with their roles and everyone being at least passable. There are also some great shots, Horton clearly knowing what he wants the movie to look like and directing accordingly. The audience can be forgiven, however, for at times feeling like the hard-to-follow plotline may not be worth the payoff.
Let me assure you, it absolutely is. Once the monster appears, the audience is treated to phenomenal gore and some gnarly creature effects that make any concerns about the beginnings of the film moot. These are easily some of the best looking indie effects that I’ve ever seen, with creature design straight out of Silent Hill. There’s also a wildly entertaining closing credits sequence that brings the monster into the daylight, about-facing the film from a super-serious character study of a group of addicts and criminals into something that more closely resembles Feast, another surprisingly great creature feature. While I don’t know that I would have made all of the choices to get to that point that Horton and fellow writer Gregory Blair made, it’s still a payoff that is well worth the ride to get there and a created world upon which I’d like to see more movies based.
Who this movie is for: Creature feature fans, Dramatic horror lovers, Twelve Steppers
Bottom line: Craving is a slow character drama for most of its runtime, and as such won’t appeal to everyone. By the time the movie actually fulfills its promise of being “a monster movie,” all bets are off and the action is breakneck and bloody. If you’re a fan of movies like Feast and you like a little more drama with your horror, this one is likely to be right up your alley. Check it out if you get the chance