Friday, March 14, 2014

A creepy movie review...

Saving this incredibly freaky movie review I wrote in 2005 about an obscure film called Starved.  This movie sucked, in my humblest of opinions, but it's rather obscure and I don't want to lose my review of it.  So here it is in all its glory…  Enjoy!

Starved for better acting and production...

 Jan 26, 2005 (Updated Jan 27, 2005)
Review by   
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating:Disappointing

  • Action Factor: 
  • Special Effects: 
  • Suspense: 

Pros:Good makeup and effective set.

Cons:Very low budget. Extremely disturbing without being particularly entertaining.

The Bottom Line:The bottom line is that starvation is not a pleasant condition, especially while in the company of a lunatic.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.

It's time for my 250th Epinions review and I figured I'd branch out a little. This is my first movie review and I don't think I could have picked a stranger flick to write about. I own a copy of the video Starved. I don't know why I own this movie, but it's in my collection. Anyway, I was cruising around on the web yesterday and was reminded that I own Starved when I ran across a couple of plot synopses and reviews of it on various websites. Instantly, I recalled how truly creepy and alarming this film is... and also how poorly produced it is. I decided to watch it again this afternoon.

Starved was produced by Spectrum Films in 1998 and is supposedly based on a true story. It chronicles the story of Scott Dawson, a sociopath who gets his jollies by imprisoning beautiful women in his basement and slowly starving them to death while he brainwashes them. In Starved, Scott Dawson kidnaps Monica Adams, holding her in his basement and trying to slowly strip her of her identity by starving her. Hal Adams plays Dawson, and he looks the part of a sociopath. He's attractive and charming, wining and dining Monica, played by the winsomely pretty Lee Anne Beaman. He gains Monica's trust, drugs her, and then locks her away in his dark, dank, windowless basement for months in order to carry out his gruesome plans.

The movie starts with Monica waking from a drug induced sleep. She's on a mattress and covered with a few blankets, still dressed for the date she had with Scott Dawson. When she realizes that her ankles are chained together, she starts to freak out. Scott comes down to talk to her. He's holding a heavy chain. He forces Monica to sit in a rusty looking chair and shows her a metal bowl which contains her wallet, then launches into a speech about how identification cards and pictures make people who they are. He proceeds to use the heavy chain to connect her shackled ankles to a cement pillar in the basement and then he burns her identification cards and pictures in the metal bowl. Monica says, "You're crazy." Scott responds quizzically, "Am I?" Then he leaves her alone to watch her personal effects burn away in the bowl.

Then there's a flashback to how Monica got into this predicament. She's at her office cubicle, admiring the beautiful red roses sent to her by her new boyfriend of two weeks, Scott. Her office pals all stand around her cubicle and quiz her about the roses and her new source of hot dates. Monica explains how she met Scott. He had approached her at a bar with a video camera and started asking questions. The office girls are understandably concerned when Monica tells them about the videotaping, but Monica brushes off their worry. She tells them that she's planning to go to Scott's house for a romantic dinner that evening and they tease her, telling her they expect to see her on Monday morning with a big smile on her face. Little do they know, that's the last they'll see or hear from or about Monica for a long time.

Later, we see how Monica is drugged while enjoying her sumptuous meal with Scott in his home. He asks her personal questions, even pulls out his video camera again and records her. Then there's a flash forward as Monica starts seeing the room spin. We're back in the basement and Scott is bringing her a cup to pee in. Monica starts cussing at him and demands that he tell her what's going on. Scott gives her two gallon milk jugs of filled with water and a loaf of bread. She asks, "What the hell is this?" as she staggers forward and knocks over one of the jugs of water. As the water flows onto the cold, concrete floor, he answers "Your life." Then he turns off the light and leaves her alone. Twelve days later, she still has part of the bread and water. Scott Dawson comments on this fact in a very clinical, detached way; he also comments on the fact that she's used the corner furthest away from the mattress in order to defecate.

Monica's friend, fellow office worker Jane Collins (played by Toni Zobel), is the only one who seems to give a damn when Monica goes missing. She's the one who is questioned by their boss when Monica doesn't show up for work on Monday. She's the one who tries to call Monica at home and gets nothing but Monica's answering machine. And she's the one who eventually takes matters into her own hands when the police give up on finding Monica.

In this film, I watched in horror as Scott screamed at Monica, berating her, systematically playing with her, controlling her in every way, and coldly, clinically observing her as she struggles to survive this new hell. Apparently, Scott is someone who has had a great deal of medical training and he is studying Monica's slow physical and mental decline. He listens to her breathe, examines her hair, and asks her questions. Scott preaches to Monica, explaining to her in a directive manner the way she feels and how reality is. Monica responds fiercely, putting on an impressive show as she strains to hold on to her identity. But slowly, Monica starts to realize that Scott is in control. When Monica changes the way she responds to him, Scott changes the way he treats her, becoming almost kind, showing that this is really just a sick psychological experiment. In better hands, these scenes could be truly frightening and entertaining, on par with a film like Silence Of The Lambs. Unfortunately, all this film manages to do is be extremely distressing and shocking in a tabloid sort of way.

The makeup in this movie is pretty good. It's truly scary to watch the once beautiful Monica starve to death. Her hair grows sallow and thin. Her teeth appear to decay, turning a sickening shade of yellow. Her eyes and cheeks seem to sink into her skull. The set must not have been too costly, since most of the movie takes place in what appears to be a dark, dirty-looking basement furnished with just a mattress and an old chair and table. The lighting is kept low during the basement scenes, which is very effective.

Let me go on record to state that I enjoy true crime stories, both in print and on screen. I think that Starved could have been a very good film had it been presented in more capable hands, especially if it really was based on a true story. What Scott does to Monica is truly frightening to watch. Unfortunately, although most of the people cast in this movie are long on physical appeal, they come up short on their acting skills. It's pretty obvious to me that this movie was produced on a slim budget. The writing is hackneyed, the background music is downright cheesy and the acting by most of the players is hokey at best. I think of all the actors in this film, Hal Adams does the most convincing job. He is truly frightening in his role as sociopath, Scott Dawson, especially at the end of the movie as he packs away the videotapes of all the women he has victimized.

I don't think I can in good conscience recommend this film to anyone, except perhaps to people who are really into psychological thrillers and don't care about quality. I also don't think this film should be viewed by most minors. There are no sex scenes and cursing and nudity are kept to a minimum, but the story is very disturbing. Viewers are basically watching a man slowly destroy a woman-- we don't see Scott Dawson physically striking Monica, but we hear him scream at her, watch him terrorize and degrade her, and watch the effects his efforts have on his victim. It's a form of psychological violence that I suspect will affect most viewers. I can only wonder what Scott Dawson's aim was... or even if he had an aim other than to destroy. My husband is a Soldier in the U.S. Army. He's seen this movie once and never wants to view it again because it was too upsetting the first time.

I wouldn't say that Starved is a particularly entertaining movie. The story is macabre and freaky, but the only purpose it seems to have is to warn women to stay away from guys who approach them with video cameras in bars and to show what happens when someone goes without food for extended periods of time. In fact, we never even really find out why Scott was brutalizing women by starving and brainwashing them. We just witness as he does it, acting as voyeurs as the poor woman suffers and slowly dies from the most basic deprivation.

I won't give away the ending, except to state that it's not a happy one. It's my guess that most viewers are likely to feel quite depressed after watching Starved. In fact, I feel almost scuzzy for having watched it, knowing that instead of educating viewers, Starved serves as a mere freak show. This is in spite of the fact that at the end of the movie, a commentary scrolls across the screen. It seems that the producers weretrying to bring social consciousness to the fact that there are still weirdos running around in the world who victimize pretty young ladies. But they don't tell us what we should do about the problem, and that's what makes Starved a veritable circus side show.

Cast

Lee Anne Beaman .... Monica Andrews
Hal Adams .... Scott Dawson
Jamie Hagan .... Miss Gills
Toni Zobel .... Jane Collins

Written for the screen by Guy Crawford and Yvette Hoffman

Running time: 90 minutes
This film does not appear to have been rated by the MPAA.

Buy Starved

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