As we draw closer to the end of 2019, I continue my mission of squeezing in as many horror flicks as I possibly can. My schedule doesn’t allow for as many as I’d like, but I am lucky enough to get in at least a few each week. Tonight’s viewing happened to be of a film by the late Ryan Nicholson entitled Famine.
Five years after a prank gone horribly wrong, a group of students are participating in the school’s 24 hour famine. Locked up and with nowhere to run, the students and faculty begin to get picked off one by one.
Having only seen one or two Nicholson films in the past (see Collar), and years ago at that, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Famine. I was aware that it was a slasher flick and quite frankly, that is all I needed to know to move it to the top of my watch list.
Famine features a modestly sized cast of actors, most of which make up the graduating class of Sloppy Secondary. In addition to the student body, we are introduced to a few staff members — teachers, janitors, etc. — along the way.
Each performer does an adequate job at their respective roles, but it is hard to really gauge who does the best because of Ryan Nicholson and co-writer Jeff O’Brien’s particular style of writing. Most of the dialog is rather juvenile; While quite a bit of it is downright annoying, it does provide a few chuckles here and there. The countless c-words thrown around, the intermittent and obnoxious screaming by Jenny (Christine Wallace), and the other ‘potty humor’ are all purposefully thrown in, perfectly demonstrating Nicholson’s particular brand of comedy.
Luckily, all of this can be forgiven once the horror aspects of Famine start to show up on screen. Remember, this 2011 flick is in fact a slasher film… what do fans of these types of films really want to see? Gore, gore, gore! Thankfully, there is plenty of that to go around!
In fact, the real star of the show here is indeed the work performed by the entire special effects and make-up department. Everything from slit throats and burned flesh to stab wounds and other bodily harm all look wonderfully gruesome, throughout Famine‘s short 77 minute runtime.
Famine at Home
Shortly before the recent death of filmmaker Ryan Nicholson, it was announced by Unearthed Film’s head honcho, Stephen Biro, that a deal was being worked out between both parties to re-work and redistribute Nicholson’s filmography in its entirety. The first to see this new Unearthed Films treatment is Famine, which is available now on Blu-ray and DVD.
While it is a bare bones release, sadly, I still believe this is the version you’ll want to own in your horror collection. The film is presented in 1.85:1/16:9 format and contains a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track.
I would have loved to see some behind-the-scenes material, but unfortunately there are only a few Unearthed Films release trailers and a still gallery available.
Famine is a very well done low-budget slasher flick. It does contain some pretty silly dialogue, but the buckets of blood more than make up for that. The high school setting is reminiscent of other greats from the slasher sub-genre including Slaughter High and even Cutting Class, and the “Bob the Builder wannabe” mascot is the perfect antagonist for this indie splatter flick.
Buy yourself a copy of Famine today, as I give it 3.5 old Indian tricks out of 5.