Thursday, June 4, 2015
If there exists a dream choice to direct a low budget horror film, someone who has seen how the genre operates, knows the ins and outs of filming on the cheap, and has the talent and ability to demand solid acting performances, that dream choice is Debbie Rochon. If you were to watch one movie a week that had Debbie Rochon in it, you would have a movie every week for the next 4 and a half years. Rochon knows her stuff and she has become a legend for a reason. Now with Model Hunger she has her first credit as director to her name. And what a fantastic job she does.
Model Hunger stars Lynn Lowry as Ginny, a jaded former model/pin-up girl who now lives in a small town and preys on young, pretty girls as a form of revenge against her rejection from the modeling industry. When her new neighbors move in, Debbie and Sal (Tiffany Shepis and Carmine Capobianco), Debbie suspects some strange things happening next door and that Ginny is not the sweet old lady that she pretends to be.
If there is one factor in Model Hunger that could make or break the movie, it's the character of Ginny. Casting Lynn Lowry in the role was nothing short of a horror epiphany. She absolutely owns the role and is so good that I could not take my eyes off of her. She is both frightening and beautiful, at once a cannibalistic madwoman and sultry seductress who somehow manages to elicit a hint of sympathy from the viewer. It's a role that demanded a lot, a role that virtually had the weight of the movie on it's shoulders, and Lowry gives a mesmerizing performance.
Tiffany Shepis as Debbie gives another strong performance in the movie. Shepis is such a natural actress, she has the ability to make the viewer feel alone with her on screen as if we are not watching her through a camera but rather with our own eyes. She exudes an aura of sadness as the depressed, Rear Window playing Debbie and also a natural funniness that made her perfect for the part. An excellent cast was assembled for Model Hunger and with all the uphill battles faced by a low budget horror production that's a major hurdled cleared right there.
The movie has a lot to say about image and the pressure on women to look a certain way. It works as a social commentary on the modeling industry and the unhealthy expectation it puts on women to be "tall and skinny," as one young character describes beauty in the movie. Model Hunger is a movie of extremes: inner beauty or outer beauty and the seeming struggle for the two to coexist. The TV show within the movie, "Suzi's Secret", promotes plus size lingerie and inner beauty and feeling beautiful no matter what is one extreme. It focuses on their very plus size model (convincingly played by Babette Bombshell) who is continuously dancing and constantly eating and destroying her body through gluttony. The other extreme is the beautiful Ginny who is so deranged and broken and ugly inside that she literally puts beautiful young girls inside her by killing and eating them. The Ginny character encompasses the danger of the modeling industry itself, as it consumed her life and ruined it as a young woman, she now ironically consumes young, beautiful girls.
The film itself looks great, it has a very sharp and colorful appearance to match the emphasis it puts on image. It's briskly paced and smartly blends the disturbing elements with the playful and is damn fun to watch. There's also a nice touch to start with a little blood and gore and then show more and more as the movie moves along and the tension builds up, like a cut itself that refuses to clot. And Rochon does not shy away from the gore, she shows the pain and blood and cuts and as your toes curl, toes literally curl onscreen as well.
One choice I absolutely loved was Harry Manfredini doing the score for Model Hunger. It has a subtle recall to Friday the 13th which I thought was brilliant as Lynn Lowry's sinister Ginny took her revenge out on these young girls just as Betsy Palmer as Jason's mom did to the teens at Crystal Lake. It was a nice observation that had me smiling.
Rochon is the dream choice to direct a low budget horror movie because she knows the world behind closed doors, she understands the darkness of the mind and what's in the shadows that surround us in the light of everyday life. She sees the danger in the details of things ignored, like the prolonged creaking in Ginny's front door as it opens to her house of horrors. She knows that violence knows no boundaries as Ginny pummels a girl with a tire iron on the side of a peaceful country road. Most importantly, Rochon as a director knows how to capture all of that and I was impressed as hell with her effort here.