2009's Hunger is another in the long line of low-budget thrillers begun by, I don't know, Saw, probably. The last several years have seen a glut of horror movies where a few people are thrown into a situation where they are expected to kill each other in order for one to emerge victorious. At least, that was the premise of Saw, kind of. At any rate, these movies keep coming because they're (usually) dirt-cheap to make, and it's not hard to contrive the drama and tense situations that thrill audiences. Reality shows work the same way.
Who are these guys, these killers? They must be independently wealthy, and have a great deal of free time during which to build their underground torture chambers, stock them with People Who Don't Know Each Other, and then peer at them through grainy camcorder footage. You know why killers like this don't exist in real life? It's because nobody has the time, and people who do have the time don't have the money. And while I can believe that there are more sociopaths among the rich than the poor, it takes a certain modicum of sanity to get there.
Another problem I have with these movies (and with reality TV): the players are always hand-picked to create conflict within the group. I can never buy the guy who thinks he can game an untenable system. More on this in a bit.
So tonight koriandrkitten and I watched Hunger which was made by and stars a bunch of nobodies who have nowhere to go but up. Essentially, five people find themselves in an underground room with a large supply of water and no food. They figure out, eventually, that all but one of them is directly responsible for the death of another human being (the other guy is a control subject) and they are expected to eat each other. Whoever put them there is willing to wait them out.
Whoever Put Them There turns out to be a tweedy guy who looks like my last doctor. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn that he was involved in a car accident as a child, during which his mother died. He was stuck in the car for quite a long time, and was eventually forced to eat her. Almost all of this is immediately obvious, but it unfolds slowly over the course of the movie, as if it's supposed to be a jarring revelation.
Most of the movie is just people starving in the darkness. Only about two thirds of the way through does any real action happen. People do get killed and eaten, and the bad guy is eventually vanquished by somebody who hasn't eaten in 37 days and therefore should not be able to overpower him.
Stories like this make interesting thought experiments, and I might not mind if they were posited that way in a couple of paragraphs, but my credulity can't handle it when this sort of thing is stretched to a feature film. Worse, I just refuse to believe that real people would behave like the captives in these movies. Sure, we have our historical Donner Parties and our mythical Sawney Beanes, but it takes a special combination of personalities to engage in group cannibalism, even in the panic of "OH MY GOD, WE'RE GOING TO DIE IN HERE." Honestly, I'm pretty sure most people would commit suicide first. But more importantly, this stuff just doesn't happen, which is more forgivable when there's more plot (say, a missing persons investigation, or an interesting personality for the killer, f'rinstance). In this case the story is thin and there are no characters to identify with. The moral pragmatist who survives to the end isn't interesting enough to care about.
Anyway, here's the trailer, but I know you're not going to watch it. That's fine.