Livestock, the second film by director Christopher Di Nunzio, smacks of something. With a $3,500 budget, it's certainly an indie movie, yet it has the uncanny ability to mimic masterful filmmaking. Strange, I can't tell whether or not the genuine moments of the movie (of which there are surprisingly many) are purposeful or mistaken; is the acting meant to be awkward, or is it the script? Am I scared by or because of the cinematography? Is that a foreshadowing nuance or a cheap way to enhance the plot? All of these questions ran through my head while watching Livestock, making it one of the most ambiguous horror movies I've ever encountered.
The movie begins with Victor (Fiore Leo), whose acting style is reminiscent of Michael Imperioli from The Sopranos. Victor is promoted by the mysterious (and poorly cast) Edgar to the position of "underboss" of The Pack, a cannibalistic cult of creatures birthed from Eastern European gypsies (no wonder they have such a bad name). Victor and his hapless counterpart Anthony (Michael Reardon) collect "hookers and bums" to disembowel and serve to their fellow Pack members in an annual, ritualistic feast. With me so far?
Cut to Annabel (Johanna Gorton), a hopeless romantic with a propensity for online dating. Annabel meets Jerry (Matt Phillion), who promises her romance with walks in the park, flowers, and expensive dinner dates; unfortunately, Annabel and Jerry are targeted for The Pack's next feast and are abducted by Anthony. After a scene of gory disembowelment (which screams "CLIMAX!"), the movie continues to the feast of The Pack, complete with Annabel and Jerry's guts and appendages.
Livestock has potential. It's one of those rare films that focuses on the "antagonists" rather than the good guys, much like Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects. Unfortunately, it falls into an extremely unpopular category (one that doesn't seem to be growing either): it's what DeadHarvey.com calls "gangster horror". It's violent, which tickles my pooch, but wholly unnecessary. Furthermore, the acting really isn't very good (apart from Fiore Leo), though none of the actors look very comfortable being in a movie. In fact, it's only the first or second project for most of the cast.
Christopher Di Nunzio is really a talented fella'. The script for Livestock is pretty good, apart from Annabel's interactions with her friends, which seem synthetic and cliche. Every once in a while, a character will subtly enhance the plot with a line such as "well, you remember the history of The Pack to be..." This is pretty cheaply done (albeit necessary) in most movies, but Livestock pulls it off. The cinematography, apart from the "walking" scenes, really affects the ambiance in a positive way, especially since most of the scenes are dragged out in a Tarantino-fashion.
You'll notice I've said "I like this, apart from this..." a lot in this review. Livestock is good, but it lacks in some really key ways. I don't know if I'd watch it again, but I'd be very interested in seeing Di Nunzio's first movie, Last Bet, Last Mistake, and any projects he does in the future. If you can get over the lack of budget and the immaturity of the actors, give Livestock a shot.