Synopsis: When a film crew moves into an abandoned psychiatric hospital with a shadowy past to shoot a low budget horror film, they get more than they bargained for. The late nights and lack of sleep begin to take a toll, and the longer this crew works, the more the leaky, wet building seems to be coming back to life, feeding off its new inhabitants. As the shoot wears on, members of the crew exhibit increasingly strange behavior leaving those still sane realizing they need to get out of this place before they too succumb to the building’s infectious hold, the only problem, the old hospital is not ready to let them go.
Release Date: MPAA Rating: PG-13
One of the most notable things about John Carpenter’s last film, The Ward, is that he didn’t write it. It’s not the first film he’s done that as he didn’t write The Thing or Christine, either. However, most of the films that are synonymous with the director’s name — The Fog, They Live, Escape from New York, and, of course, Halloween â were written by him. The Ward was written by a couple of brothers named Michael and Shawn Rasmussen. Why is this important? Because the Rasmussen Brothers have written another movie called Dark Feed and, no offense to John Carpenter, this one they directed themselves.
Dark Feed is the tale of a low-budget film crew who seems to have found the perfect location to shoot their horror movie – an old abandoned psychiatric hospital. The only problem is that something else seems to be there with them. The weirdness starts out simple enough: The sound guy hears footsteps through his headphones coming from where nobody is, and an actress gets spooked by a strange figure in the basement. Soon enough, things escalate when the cast and crew start behaving hostilely and antagonistically towards each other. Eventually, people start dying. The filmmakers have to find a way to survive the night and get out of the hospital…if it will let them.
The modern horror world has a ton of conventions, and Dark Feed seems to hit on all of them. There’s a dark, scary hospital. There’s a group of young, attractive victims. There’s an unseen, ambiguous, supernatural threat that stalks the young, attractive victims. Because the film is about a crew that is making a movie, Dark Feed even dabbles in a bit of found-footage. Despite all of the stereotypes, it does not come off as a blatant rip-off; it’s actually a fairly inventive and creative story.
Dark Feed is the very definition of independent filmmaking. The Rasmussen Brothers lock themselves in a spooky hospital in Boston (the same one where, rumor has it, parts of Shutter Island were shot) with an unknown and inexperienced cast and make a movie! This approach both benefits and hinders the film. The creative aspects of the film – most notably, the script â are great. The technical elements â the lighting, sound, and editing – are sub-par. The combination does not make Dark Feed a complete waste of time, it just makes the viewer wonder what could have been done with a little more money. The potential is there; with an experienced cinematographer and a more polished cast, Dark Feed could have been a great film.
One thing is for certain, Dark Feed is absolutely creepy as hell. In some places, the amateurish camera work and lighting only work to emphasize this factor, giving the film an almost reality television feel to it. Although the haunted mental hospital archetype is a used and abused one, the Rasmussens pull it off admirably. A good deal of the reason why the film is effective is the location; the hospital is inspiring and chilling, just begging to be included in an episode of “Ghost Hunters.” However, the limited ability of the actors is distracting, and much of the story gets bogged down in the uninspired performances. For those who are picky and discerning about their horror films, Dark Feed can probably be skipped. But, for enthusiasts who can’t get enough horror, fanatics who devour every title that they can get their hands on, it’s worth a look; there’s something there that will satisfy the hardcore horror buff.
The script for Dark Feed is a breath of fresh air. It’s nothing truly groundbreaking like, say, Cabin in the Woods, but it’s a unique take on the old haunted hospital trope. The Rasmussen Brothers do a great job at letting their story unfold organically, if a bit slowly. The first act is fairly exposition-heavy, but it works because of the getting to know you aspect of the film crew. Because the characters are making a movie in the movie, they also get away with some silly and extended dialogue without it taking too much away from the mood. Once the film starts burning, though, watch out. There are plenty of surprises. The suspense comes early in the film, setting up the shocks that come later. As writers, the Rasmussen Brothers have found a niche in psychological horror, and the script for Dark Feed is a good example.
When making Dark Feed, the Rasmussen Brothers used Canon DSLR cameras and tried to use available light when possible, so the whole thing has a very student-film vibe to it. That can be good and bad. The locations and sets look great, and they are very well lit. The talent, on the other hand, is not. The actors are cursed with bright spots lighting up their foreheads and shadows streaking across their cheeks. In some instances, for example when the shots are supposed to be of the film-within-the-film, this works in Dark Feed‘s favor, but other times it’s just distracting. Digital video is tricky, and knowing the capabilities and limitations of the camera is essential; it’s a pitfall into which many young filmmakers fall, and it’s what separates the pros from the students. Dark Feed is halfway there, and a little more attention to lighting their subjects would have put the film over the top.
Dark Feed has an underlying creepiness to it that puts it in the same classification as other modern horror films like Insidious or Session 9. There are very few jump scares, but the film doesn’t need them; the story is suspenseful enough to draw the viewer in without them. The hospital is also scary enough to keep the film from having to resort to cheap shocks as well, with its creeping walls, moving shadows, and freaky sounds…all being overseen by a creepy painting on the wall of the old hospital head. One of the scariest things about Dark Feed is that the threat is never actually vocalized or envisioned – it’s more of a feeling, something in the air, than an actual physical presence. Is it ghosts? The old doctor? The hospital itself? It doesn’t matter. The feeling that no one is safe is enough to keep most viewers on their toes for the whole film.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Michael Rasmussen
- Screenwriter(s): Michael RasmussenShawn Rasmussen
- Cast: Michael Scott Allen (Darrell)Dayna Cousins (Marissa)Michael Reed (Jack) Jonathan Thomson (Harry)Jason Beaubien (Andrei)
- Cinematographer: Monday Sunnlinn
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA