DVD Review by: Pamela Torres
"Nice to have your friends for dinner!"
Remember the old saying, "You are what you eat?" Well, this little phrase is taken to a disgusting new level in GNAW, a mouth-watering 2008 British horror film that demonstrates the debut talents of director Gregory Mandry and script writers Michael Bell and Max Waller. While GNAW offers to audiences the typical A-to-Z format presented in many slasher movies brought to life over the last three decades (particularly serving some gooey, gastronomic homages to THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and HOSTEL), I do indeed recommend the DVD to anyone who is new to the genre and can't think of any other effective way to lose weight (especially after Thanksgiving dinner, if you get my drift. Now get your fingers out of your mouth this instant!). Trust me when I say this, ladies and gentlemen: once you watch GNAW all the way through, you will never want to munch on leftover turkey sandwiches again!
After a simple but impressive opening credit montage that combined scrolling newspaper clippings with faded photographs of missing teens, GNAW introduces six characters who are driving up to Suffolk to spend a weekend holiday in the quiet countryside. Jack (Nigel Croft-Adams) is a two-timing jerk who runs up the hill with his slutty blond girlfriend Jill (Rachel Mitchem) but finds out that his last fling, a despondent goth sleepwalker named Lorrie (Sara Dylan), is carrying his child. Not surprisingly Lorrie is terrified about having a baby (as shown in a disturbing dream sequence of a carriage left abandoned in the dark woods), and when she hastily decides to take responsibility as a mother, Jack (being the selfish and insensitive swine that he is) walks out on her after offering money to get an abortion (Hmmm, sounds alot like something I watched on Maury Povich the other day). The only guy who actually gives a damn about what she's going through is the sensible but asthmatic Matt (Oliver Lee Squires), who develops a crush on her after finding a home pregnancy test snugly hidden beneath her pillow. Although GNAW does manage to paddle through some pretty good character development in the first half, there really isn't much of a backstory provided for the last two members of the gang, Ed (Hiram Bleetman) and Hannah (Julia Vandoorne). Basically, these two young horndogs are just tagging along for the ride in order to have sex in as many well-hidden places as possible. One can only guess at this point who will actually survive and who is destined to be nothing more than tasty fodder. Of course, if you are a frequent fan of hack-and-chop body count copycats, then I can assume you already know who could escape in the end. Anyway, most of the film is set in and around Blackstock Farm, a hospitable cottage run by a generous aging keeper named Mrs. Obadiah (Carrie Cohen). Almost instantly after entering the front door (which is mysteriously left unlocked), the group steps into Hansel and Gretyl territory by discovering a dining room table loaded with tarts, cakes, and other tantalizing homemade desserts. It's not long before a psychotic killer known only as the Slaughterman (Gary Faulkner) starts stalking and picking out his victims one by one with bear traps, a chainsaw, and an assortment of rusty garden tools. He goes out late at night with his face concealed in a mask made out of squirrel and fox hides, looking like a cross between Gunnar Hansen and the Big Bad Wolf. And in case you didn't know this man was killing people, GNAW has more than enough peephole camera shots and heavy breathing to get the point across. Like most cannibal murderers, he keeps a yard sale's worth of stolen souvenirs: frayed sneakers, human skulls, cell phones, etc. Then, when he chooses to add Lorrie's priceless ballerina music box to his collection, the Slaughterman becomes infatuated with her and is more than determined to make her unborn child a part of the family.
Our gorging appetite for food is the central theme of GNAW. From the various close-ups of sizzling hamburger patties and hot soup broths to the scene in the kitchen where Matt raids the refrigerator and devours some cow's tongue without a moment's hesitation, this film makes a nauseating approach to addressing the sin of gluttony while focusing on how hunger fuels the food chain as nature's most primal and destructive urge. If watching the main characters devour the crumbling wedges of a steak and kidney pie and finding hairs and fingernails in the filling isn't gross enough for your palette, how about witnessing a few dismembered body parts shoved through a meat grinder and a tongue being pulled out by the roots with pliers? Ugh! And you thought eating veal was cruel!
Could somebody pass the ketchup?