Director J. Horton’s “Craving” is a poorly executed schlock. Co-written by Horton, along with Gregory Blair, “Craving” tries to be more than what it inherently could have been: a gory, pulpy, but enjoyable creature fare. This attempt fails miserably for the majority of the film’s duration. Resultantly, when the aforementioned creature does appear, it is too little too late.

“Craving” starts with two meanings of the word ‘Junkie.’ Horton’s intention becomes quite clear from the proclamation of that word. A social commentary on drug addiction disguised under the tropes of a B-Movie thriller. In fact, it seemed to be a pretty good idea on paper. However, it quickly becomes evident that “Craving” does not quite carry the nuance, nor does it fill the screen with the pulpy thrills that would have compensated for everything else that is lacking.

The story starts with a couple of patrons and staff chitchatting in a local pub. You pretty much anticipate that these folks are about to go through some nightmarish hell. After some establishing small talks that frankly come across as babbling, the imminent invasion does happen. The so-called ‘Junkies’ take refuge in the pub as a horde of gunslingers are after them. The first death, which is of one of the bartenders, indicates that the two marauding groups are not going to hold back in their fight. This death also provides an early indication of the kind of splatter-work gore Horton has in his mind.

As the gunslinging group outside, let’s call them the ‘Justice Seekers,’ gives one hour with the ultimatum that the group inside should allow them to take the ‘monster’ among them, tensions amidst the junkies and the innocent bystanders rise. “Craving” uses flashbacks to establish some of the characters’ backstories, including that of the leader of the ‘Justice Seekers,’ to make the hostage situation reasonable.

It becomes clear that one of the Junkies, Will (Xavier Roe), is the target of the outsiders as he looks quite ill. Gail (Holly Rockwell) is a mother-like figure in Will’s life and seems to be the leader of the junkies’ group. However, some of the members do not seem too keen to obey her. Tensions begin to rise.

A still from Craving (2023).
A still from Craving (2023).

“Craving” massively suffers due to its intention of being a locked-room drama with its staple of bickering characters. Because it does not have anything in its favor to create that drama. It tries to take itself seriously. Disjointed backstories hardly allow you to emotionally care for any of the characters. This would not have been important had the film truly embraced its B-Movie roots. Unfortunately, it didn’t. Horton spends a major chunk of his film’s time in a futile attempt to establish its characters. You would eventually wonder why, as all of the poorly written characters are set up to be fodder for the ‘monster’ in the final act.

The other major disadvantage the film has in its quest to become a ‘serious’ horror drama is the acting of the cast. It is dreadful. Barring a handful of actors, most cast members recite their lines without conviction. And the dialogue-writing is equally awful to make matters worse. This again emphasizes Horton’s decision to engage in tense tete-a-tete between its poorly written, abysmally acted characters, armed with witless dialogues. It is understandable that the desire was there to make the film more than a usual creature thriller where characters would try to evade the monster, but the limitations are too glaring not to notice.

The only thing that works in the favor of “Craving” is its monster. For a creature feature, the design of the antagonist is quite important. With the limited budget, Horton and the team came up with a finely grotesque monster design. The monster channels the fearsome nature of a cone snail with the reserved empathy of the “Elephant Man.” Fortunately, the monster design seems largely to be the result of resourcefully creative makeup work.

“Craving” is a forgettable affair. However, it could have been an enjoyable forgettable affair had it focused solely on being a monster movie. Instead, it becomes a glaring example of bad filmmaking with a misplaced commentary on drug addiction.

Read More: Night of the Caregiver (2023) Movie Review: Full of Tired Horror Tropes and Lacks the Capacity to Generate Fear

Craving (2023) Movie Links: IMDb
Craving (2023) Movie Cast: Felissa Rose, Al Gomez, Holly Rockwell
Where to watch Craving

Similar Posts