AUGUST 19, 2009
It’s a shame when a good movie gets mis-marketed. Such is the case with Cravings; not only was the title changed (from the sort of porno-y sounding Daddy’s Girl, which is still the title per the end credits) to something that sounds more horror-y, the cover also depicts a straight up female vampire, with fangs and bright red lipstick (I momentarily thought it was Vamp II). In reality, the film has no actual vampires, but rather a troubled girl who suffers from Renfield’s Syndrome.
I actually looked this up, and yes it seems to be a real syndrome (though not categorized in the DSM-IV, which I guess is a giant book of syndromes) in which the sufferers are compelled to drink blood. Couple that with the tale of a psychiatrist whose wife killed herself (for reasons never made completely clear) and may or may not be haunting him, and you have what is technically a horror movie. But it’s a character piece first and foremost, so I suspect those who are lured in by the graphic and traditional box art will instantly rush to the IMDb to dub it “worst movie I have ever seen” before admitting that they shut it off after ten minutes (which, no lie, is a thread I see on nearly every single movie I watch, including legitimately great ones).
And that’s a shame, because it’s much better than I was expecting. The hero of the film is a fascinatingly flawed character - he seemingly breaks every patient/doctor rule in the book over the course of the film - and the acting is far above what you normally get from a DTV Lionsgate movie. In fact, I’m pretty baffled why they didn’t select this for one of their After Dark releases (or even Ghost House Underground), as it would give the film more exposure, instead of it being one of the dozens of undistinguished DVD cases on the shelf at blockbuster, rented only by folks like me (indeed, even I had passed it by a couple times).
It’s also impressive on a technical level. It’s well shot, and often resembles a 70s film. Even during the few straight up horror scenes (poodle owners should probably skip this film), takes are long, instead of the hyper-edited style that I’ve grown increasingly tired of seeing in every 00’s horror movie. At no point did I say “What the hell am I looking at here?” Kudos to first time writer/director D.J. Evans for being more accomplished than most directors are in their 4th or 5th movie. The score is also quite good; there’s a hauntingly sad piece that plays early on that I could kill to have an Mp3 of. Composer Owen Powell, message me!
Also, it’s the 2nd film in a row in which you see more male nudity than female. I assume (tomorrow’s) Halloween 2 will not continue this trend.
My only sort of problem concerns the “ghost” of his dead wife. I assume that these visions are just in his head, but either way, they never seem to come full circle. It ultimately feels like something they added in to give the film more of a horror feel, and other than further clarifiying that her suicide really messed him up (as if the constant pill taking, drinking, and fucking his young patient’s mother weren’t enough of an indicator), they don’t really have any bearing on the story.
Those who like low key chillers should definitely check it out. If you’re expecting a trashy, vampire version of Alicia Silverstone’s The Crush (which it slightly resembles at times, to be fair) - steer clear. And again - if you own or have an affinity for poodles or other small cutesy dogs, dear CHRIST do not watch this one. Poor puppy.
What say you?