Thoughts on “Feeding Grounds”

So, the third movie from the “The Shadows” collection is called “Feeding Grounds”. The main plot is that a group of “friends” are driving to a cabin or cottage or something for a partying and hook-up weekend across a stretch of desert (up North, in Maine) where there have been a number of cases where cars are found abandoned and with the inhabitants completely missing. As the movie goes along, we discover body parts in excrement and eventually discover that there’s some kind of presumably large and/or small creatures out there that sting or bite people to make them sick and then eat them later after, I guess, they’ve been sufficiently weakened, which they or it starts to do to the main characters in the movie.

The first problem for this movie is that it starts by making the characters unlikable and unsympathetic and at odds with each other, and then has to try to redeem them later so that we won’t just want to see them get eaten. Two of the characters had a falling out over a band they were in and want to punch each others’ lights out before the trip even gets started. One of them also had an earlier hook-up with one of the less attractive women, which makes that a little awkward (so, of course, they get paired again). All of this leads to various sniping before they even get sick … except that the first scene — featuring a pair of lesbians who are going to get married and so are completely in love — establishes that one of the symptoms of being bitten/stung is to be more hostile to others. It’s really hard to tell that that’s happening the way it was written.

And, of course, on top of that these people aren’t so unpleasant that we want to see them die by being eaten, especially by something they had no hand in releasing or creating, and so the time the movie spends redeeming them is wasted. As I’ve said many, many times before, we don’t really need to like the characters that much to not want to see them die horribly. What would have worked better was to start out with them being friendly and then have them start acting hostile to each other before revealing that any of them had been stung or were getting sick. Then we would wonder, given the first scene, if they had been stung or if it was just these personal issues boiling over. This would draw out the suspense until they start getting sick and then we know that, yeah, this is bad.

There is one character that is portrayed pretty sympathetically in the movie, which is Mary, the vegetarian girl. She’s generally nice, gets the most upset at the idiot talk two drugged out characters get up to — making light of deaths — and is paired with the most sympathetic male character. Most movies would be tempted to focus on her — especially since she’s essentially the Final Girl of the movie — but “Feeding Grounds” bravely turns her into the mystic mentor, spouting mostly nonsensical ideas about the monster that come out of nowhere and often don’t make sense. The big reveal, for example, is when they notice that she isn’t getting sick, and she says that it’s because she’s a vegetarian and so the monsters know she won’t eat them, which at first glance made me roll my eyes at both her knowing that for no apparent reason — and it’s not treated as speculation — and that it really seemed like a claim that i was because she was so morally pure that they wouldn’t touch her. Of course, right at the end I realized that they might have been hinting that the monsters didn’t feel they needed to weaken her because she wouldn’t eat them and so wasn’t a threat. Except, of course, this is idiotic too, because just because an animal is a vegetarian doesn’t mean that if you attack it it won’t fight back and kill you. If the species is any threat at all, it would make sense to sting it anyway just in case.

Which leads to the ending. After everyone else is dead, dear Mary is left alone. The monster comes at her — we never actually get to see the monster, which is not really an issue for me — and comes towards her. This seems to confirm the idiotic but less annoying idea that it didn’t see a vegetarian as a threat. Except that the next morning the police arrive at a large pile of excrement and Mary suddenly wakes up. So she survived. There are two ways to think that this happened, since she wasn’t going to crawl into a pile of excrement on her own. First, that it swallowed her whole and she came out the other side, but how she didn’t suffocate is never explained. The other one is that the monster came on her and just took a dump on her, which is hilarious and actually makes more sense. Neither’s really scary, though.

While writing this, I thought of another possibility: she was smart enough to hide in a pile of excrement where it couldn’t sniff her out. This contradicts the scene — it had her in its sights — and is never hinted at in the movie. I think I’ll stick with the “Took a dump” theory, just because it’s the most entertaining.

The movie’s not very good. It’s the first of the movies in this collection that I dislike. It moved quickly enough and isn’t that long, but nothing happens. About the best thing I can say about it is that the actresses are very attractive, which seems to be intentional, but that’s not really enough to get me to watch it again. I don’t actively hate the movie, but really, really can’t see a time when I’d want to watch it again.

One Response to “Thoughts on “Feeding Grounds””

  1. Thoughts on “Ghosts of Chernobyl” | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] big mistake that’s made here is the same one that was made in “Feeding Grounds”:  the movie spends a lot of time showing that these people are not very nice and have a lot of […]

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