Doomed to Consume – Pre-Release Collectors Edition DVD Review
Written by Steve Pattee
Directed by Jason Stephenson
Written by Robbie Ribspreader
2006, 80 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released April 13, 2007
Nicole Blessing as Tracy Loomis
Douglas Sidney as Jim Williamson
Thomas Altman as Shane Stokes
Don Prentiss as Tyler Stokes
Sonja Beck as Deana Jenkins
For two weeks, Tracy (Nicole Blessing) has been holed up in an abandoned house, trying to make it through a zombie outbreak.
With limited food to begin with, Tracy somewhat unwillingly takes in another survivor, Deana (Sonja Beck), an unappreciative, bitchy little teenager who was injured by a zombie.
Just when the two women are down to their last few cans of soup, three men show up on their doorstep looking for gas. Reluctant to leave her safe haven, but knowing she has no other choice, Tracy offers up the gas in the house because she sees an opportunity.
So Tracy, and her troubled past, join the three men on the journey to safety. Deana would have joined them, too, if she hadn't gone and turned zombie on them.
In April 2004, I reviewed Off the Beaten Path, NFTS (Not for the Squeamish) Productions' first film. While flawed, it had its moments and I looked forward to director Jason Stephenson's next film. Doomed to Consume is that next film, so the question becomes: Has Stephenson delivered?
Consume has a fantastic opening credits sequence. Shooting from a moving vehicle, the camera films zombies making their way toward you. At first, there aren't many, but as the credits roll, more and more zombies are cutting through the forest. It's one of the slicker openings I've seen from a low-budget movie.
So, having seen that, I was excited to see what the film had to offer. Sadly, though, not much more.
To Consume's credit, there are quite a few scenes like the opening. The problem lies in the pacing between these great scenes. There is a lot of padding in the movie. When the three men in the film run out of gas, they make their way through a cornfield, culminating with a confrontation with Tracy. And her shotgun. After the guns are lowered, and the introductions are made, the film just sort of stops until the group decides to head to the vehicle to get the hell out of Dodge. Granted, there was a nice headshot in between, but that's not enough to keep the film going.
An eventful trip back through the cornfield to the vehicle leads to a long drive. It wouldn't be so bad if there were more conversation in the vehicle, but the silence outweighs the script, and you are forced to wait until something happens.
Consume's acting is acceptable, but Don Prentiss as the nice guy, Tyler, stands out from the others. While his character gets a bit whiney at times, there are moments where, with experience, you can tell Prentiss will get even better.
One thing I really wish Stephenson and crew had done was take a closer look at the effects. More specifically, the blood effects. While the gore was really good (especially for low-budget standards), the blood was consistently orangeish. As if it were a thick Tang mixture, rather than a syrupy cherry. And one really has to wonder about the zombie baby sequence. I don't remember anyone praising it in Dawn of the Dead (2004) and it certainly doesn't work here. It ends up really bringing down that particular scene due to the ridiculousness of it. While there are a few reasons I could give, the bottom line is it just looks bad — the baby looks more like a doll than a baby.
I want NFTS to do well. While Consume should have been a short — maybe thrown on an anthology disc with The Locksmith (another NFTS film) and Off the Beaten Path — it still shows the growth of the small Minnesota film company. Stephenson and his crew are still learning. And if the pacing in Consume is slow, it's obvious his growth as a filmmaker is faster.
Video and Audio:
Consume's full-frame presentation is… Wait. Full frame? Nothing irritates me more than low-budget filmmakers going full frame, as it screams "low budget." If you want to film it that way, fine, but at least matte it for the final product. With home theater becoming more and more popular, widescreen is the way to go. Hell, even many TV shows are being filmed widescreen now. A full-frame presentation from a movie looks amateur, even if the product isn't. Presenting widescreen is one small thing indie filmmakers can do to elevate their films the slightest notch.
Now, with that rant out of the way, the full-frame presentation is shaky, at best. Normally, with digital, the day (or brightly lit) scenes have few problems, and the darker scenes become soft. In the case of Consume, days are soft and darks are incredibly soft. It almost looks as if it was shot on (non-digital) video. Hopefully, if Consume gets picked up, the distributor will clean it up.
The 2.0 audio is worse. There are scenes in which there is a noticeable humming, and there are some instances where you can barely even hear the actors. It's so bad, I have to wonder if they were shooting audio directly from the camera, and not using any sort of boom mic. Like the video, hopefully this can be something that a distribution company can clean up.
Nothing is offered but trailers for Doomed to Consume, The Locksmith and Off the Beaten Path. It's really tough criticizing NFTS for this, as this is a "Pre-Release Collectors Edition" and they are getting the movie out there for the fans. But, at the same time, some deleted scenes and/or outtakes only available on this DVD for the fans who jump on this would have been nice — especially since their Off the Beaten Path DVD was so loaded with extras.
"Sucks" does not begin to cover it.
I have high hopes for NFTS Productions. While both of the films I've seen have had their issues, Doomed to Consume is a positive step forward for the company. We haven't seen Stephenson's best work yet by a long shot, but there's no doubt it's only a matter of time before we do.
Sadly, though, I can't recommend a blind buy of this "Pre-Release Collector's Edition." Twenty dollars is just too steep, even for fans of zombie low-budget. Wait until it gets picked up and give it a whirl, as it will hopefully have some more features and a cleaned up audio and video.
(Equipment includes a Mitsubishi WS-48613 48” HDTV, OPPO DV-970HD DVD player and Onkyo HTS-770 Home Theater System and, in some cases, a Sony 27” WEGA TV and a Sony DVP-NS50P DVD player.)