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“Craving” bills itself as an insane creature feature-crime thriller. Does it deliver the gory goods or leave viewers hungry for more?

Craving landed on digital last month (3/8/2023). Read on to find out if you should Rent it, Stream it, or Skip it.

Craving is an Action-Thriller/ Creature Feature from director J. Horton (The Campus) and stars Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp) as a bartender in an isolated dive bar who must contend with a group of masked figures who show up on one fated night demanding blood. 

Rose’s character Les is a recovering addict who is joined by barmaid Shiloh (played by Rachel Amanda Bryant, Human Zoo, MFA) and a small group of misfit bar regulars who all have varying personality disorders. 

Bryant holds her own against the much beloved Horror veteran Rose, and the drunken conspiracy theorist with a penchant for Cyptids, Frankie Guzman, is endlessly entertaining as Rudy. 

A typical night is violently disrupted when gunshots are fired outside, and a stand-off occurs between two groups of strangers. 

One group is clad in heavy-duty weapons and creepy skin masks. The other consists of typical movie bad guys who force their way into the bar before the masked madmen outside barricade them inside, along with Les and her regulars. 

The movie pays homage to movies like The Strangers, Assault On Precinct 13, Feast, and, more recently, VFW.

But the crescendo of violence and disruption is swiftly replaced with long, drawn-out character development, which is arduous to sit through given that every character is two-dimensional, cliché, and lackluster; therefore, everyone comes off as a little wooden. 

Craving doubles as an enjoyable Whodunnit.

The group of armed maniacs warns the bar patrons that there is a monster in their midst, locked inside with them. The movie takes its time in fleshing out character histories and motivations so that the viewer may piece together a picture of who is potentially a bloodthirsty subhuman. 

Having such a large cast of supporting roles does, however, feel a little detrimental to the story’s pacing. Far too long is spent hearing about each character’s ideals and motivations, which may work in an A24 Slow Burn film as opposed to a gritty Horror/ Action flick like Craving. 

However, where the movie fails in its uneven pacing, it more than makes up for with its violent fight sequences and impressive practical gore FX.

When the proverbial shit does hit the fan, it crescendos into a grisly climax, and the final twenty minutes of Craving showcase some of the bloodiest scenes ever to grace Indie cinema. 

Robert Bravo (Bravo FX) provides practical special effects, and he does not disappoint.  

Claret spills down the camera lens, limbs are separated from bodies, and there is even an impressively Old School creature transformation scene that compensates for the long lulls in action sequences. 

The stylization choice of employing neon lights and red bulbs to frame tense action scenes results in an aesthetically pleasing movie. 

The symbolism used around addiction is a nice touch; the presence of monsters and supernatural transformation serves as an analogy for the horrors of addiction and its impact upon the body. However, the depiction of struggling addicts is dealt with tenderly enough without ever slipping into exploitative terrain. 

I liked the euphemism of violently transforming into a monster as a mirror to drug withdrawal. The changes one goes through, both physically and psychologically, coupled with the loss of control, serve as a clever metaphor. 

Horton has opted for a non-linear timeline meaning that we are privy to the grotesque aftermath before we are drip-fed the events leading up to just what the hell happened in this grimy bar. 

Craving presents an interesting spin on the traumas of addiction and satiates that Creature Feature itch with impressive, grisly monster action. 

RENT IT. Craving would benefit from having a good twenty minutes shaved off, as well as having a smaller supporting cast. But if you can tolerate the dip in action whilst throwaway characters are given a backstory, then you are rewarded with a satisfyingly fun monster movie.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 3

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