The low-budget arena is where the horror genre works best. Michael and Shawn Rasmussen used their lack of finances to make 2013’s Dark Feed, an old-fashioned chiller that puts tension before gore.
Dark Feed uses the tried and test haunted-house formula to deliver a creepy horror that isn’t short on humour. Fittingly, the film follows low budget filmmakers as they shoot a movie in an abandoned psychiatric hospital. Soon the cast and crew begin to fall under the spell of an inherent evil within the building’s crumbling walls.
Michael and Shawn Rasmussen made a splash when the great John Carpenter chose their screenplay for The Ward as his first directing effort in almost a decade. That film was also a hospital-set horror and the brothers seem to have picked up a few traits from the master himself. Dark Feed is an old fashioned horror, which thankfully side-steps many of the genre’s modern tropes (like gore and the dreaded found-footage shooting style). Instead Dark Feed focuses on character and atmosphere. In fact, the film reminded me of Carpenter’s Prince Of Darkness. That 1987 film also follows a group who begin to experience weird goings on within a building (in Carpenter’s case it was a church).
The young cast of unknowns do well enough performance-wise, but nobody makes a splash as the great horror star of tomorrow. Meanwhile, the film has some interesting visuals that help make it stand-out from other, lesser efforts within the genre. It’s important that a horror movie has enough set-up to make you care about what happens to the characters on screen and that’s where Dark Feed gets things right – by showing the camaraderie that takes place behind the scenes of the movie within the movie. Well, they do say you should write what you know.
Digital filmmaking has opened up the cinematic world for filmmakers and Dark Feed feels like it was made by enthusiasts of the genre. The Rasmussen brothers have taken what they know and refined it. It would be interesting to see what they would be able to do with more resources and a bigger palette. Dark Feed is an assured debut which shows that there are plenty of thrills to be had within the confines of the haunted house movie.