Oh, I’ll admit right here and now that my eyeballs did a slight roll when Debbie Rochon‘s directorial debut Model Hunger kicked off with a cheerleader squad scene straight out of a Horror 101 how-to film school class. About an hour and twenty minutes later, my eyeballs reflexively rolled WAY back in my head in order to avoid seeing a pretty damn shocking (as in un-seeable) slice of violence that had me put on a pot of coffee at around 4am after the credit roll.
I’m quite sure I saw myself screaming as my eyeballs whipped back into their normal positions, but that’s not important. I wasn’t getting to sleep after that shock, folks. Amusingly enough, it was with that pot that my old coffeemaker gave up the ghost as it malfunctioned, leaking coffee all over the counter and floor. I think it was an emphatic reaction or something even though it was two rooms away in the kitchen. Guess who had a four tea bag cup of tea instead?
But I digress. While not perfect, Model Hunger delivers the goods and gore horror fans expect while making for a truly weird as hell experience when all is said and done. While it’s a low-budget “B” at heart, Rochon very cleverly lets the horror and resulting carnage (done via practical effects) build with each kill until that eye popping climactic moment mentioned above. Actually, the eye-popping comes after that climactic moment, but you’ll see for yourself what I’m babbling about because you’ll definitely want to check this out with a few like-minded horror fiends.
Those cheerleaders at the beginning get sent out in pairs to raise money by selling magazine subscriptions door to door, and two of them just so happen to knock on the wrong door. Seemingly kindly “old” lady Ginny Reilly (Lynn Lowry) lets them in for a chat, serves up some tea and well, let’s just say those two girls aren’t cheering much after that. It seems Ginny is completely off her rocker, but doesn’t own a rocker at all. She does own a well-used baseball bat, a nice set of sharp and blunt kitchen utensils, and a basement torture room, all of which come in handy as the film progresses. Well, for HER, at least.
Ginny’s got a bone to pick here (and how!), and the film also makes a point about body image issues via a bizarre TV show I won’t spoil that has a strange hypnotic power over its viewers. It adds to the weirdness and reminded me a little of the crazy TV bits from Motivational Growth, another cool horror flick I really liked. Anyway, as Ginny ups her body count, her next door neighbor Debbie Lombardo (Tiffany Shepis), is growing suspicious. It’s not her meds wearing off either. Debbie’s chubby hubby, Sal (Carmine Capobianco) doesn’t think much of her assumptions even when Ginny drops off some of her *special* home cooking for her to try. That doesn’t go over so well, and the film pits shaky, suspicious Debbie up against her murderous neighbor in quite a fight to the finish.
As noted above, Rochon lures you in with relatively tame violence that’s partially off-screen but escalates with each kill as Ginny’s victims give it their all at becoming scream queens themselves. Not all of her targets are young ladies, though. One poor guy gets it but good in an extended sequence where a sexily dressed Ginny (Lowry’s got that ageless Helen Mirren thing going, folks) taunts and teases him before getting his digits. And I don’t mean his phone number. While there are a few first-timer flaws here and there, this one’s got teeth that bite down hard, some great casting choices (Babette Bombshell, Gerica Horn, Suzi Lorraine, Aurelio Voltaire), and an effective score by Harry Manfredini (Yep, those Friday the 13th flicks and many others).
It’ll be interesting to keep on eye on Rochon (well, even more so than usual) as her film making skills improve. She’s certainly got the horror pedigree thing down pat and the sky’s the limit as long as the fans eat up what she’s serving them in large doses. She should definitely work with Lowry again, as Lynn steals the show here with her hair-raising psycho hot not ready for granny status performance. Go check out Model Hunger and if you’re even slightly squeamish, watch it with someone who isn’t so you can dive behind them at the right moments. I’m sure they’ll be some double-diving by the end, because it’s not a good horror flick if everyone isn’t behind the couch at some point.