Night Feeders (2006)

This one was far better than I expected.

On the face of it, one expects Night Feeders to be just another ultra cheap made-on-a shoestring-with-help-from-the-neighbors  sort of horror film.  We’ve seen a lot of those, and it doesn’t appear to fall too far from the formula.  A group of friends go out into the woods (in this case, on a hunting trip) and monsters start hunting them.

Very familiar.

Only, it really isn’t.  For one thing, it doesn’t look cheap.  We’re talking a film made by someone who took the time to frame his shots and give it the professional look most of these films don’t even try to achieve.  The director, Jet Eller, may only have directed three ultra-low budget films (and the first, Marley’s Revenge:  The Monster Movie, is distinctly amateurish, if still entertaining), but he did have a solid background working in commercials, television, music videos and industrial film.

Then there’s his cast, who are not only moderately proficient (some of whom have since gone on to play bit parts in Hollywood films), but their scruffy, un-Hollywood appearance makes them seem far more believable than the perfect “teens” the typical made for video horror film would have used.

We also have a fairly solid script, without the usual stray line or two that leaves you wincing with pain.  It may not go very far in defining the characters, but you expect that from this sort of film.

What is very un-Hollywood, and makes this film far stronger, is that, for the first third or so of the film, there are no girls hiking through the woods with them in skimpy shorts and haltertops.  

Really. 

Except for a few stray scenes, there are only four guys on screen.  No women.  How shocking in our day and age, right?  You might almost get the impression that these are four real guys, on a long promised getaway with their friends, escaping from family, work, girl friends and the like for a weekend.

While the creatures are largely CGI and not particularly impressive, Jet keeps them nearly invisible for a long time, and keeps them in darkness and shadow for most of the film.  We do see far too much of them once the big assault on the house they’ve holed up in begins, with what seems like the same animation of them stalking about used over and over again.  But it really doesn’t look that much worse than a SyFy (or were they SciFi back then?) Network movie would have looked about the same time.

However, something totally unexpected happens about a third of the way into the film, and the star turns out to be…well, the least likely character, naturally, but they do manage to take the comedy relief loser character and suddenly make him sympathetic.

And heroic.  In a very low key sort of way.

And then something else equally unexpected gets thrown into the mix, which ultimately leads to an ending none of us expected.

Or to be precise, two endings we never expected, as our unexpected hero takes on a task that we thought was only idle talk earlier in the film.

This one was made in North Carolina, and it definitely has a small town, backwoods sort of feel about it – not to mention something of the quality of those old drive-in movies from the age of Regional Cinema.

Certainly, it is a better and more entertaining film that most of the made for video horror out there.  One only wishes that Jet had made a few more films while he was at it.

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