The Hunger - Volume 1: Sanctuary (1999)
By: Andrew Gillies on October 6, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DV1 (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 4:3. English DD 2.0. 88 minutes
The Movie
Director: Tony Scott, Luke Scott, Chris Hartwill
Starring: David Bowie, Giovanni Ribisi, Kim Feeney, Kate Vernon, Eric Roberts, Alice Poon
Screenplay: Bruce M. Smith, Gerald Wexler
Country: USA
The Hunger is a very film noir take on anthology series television shows such as The Twilight Zone or Tales from the Crypt. From the Scott Brothers (one of them being Ridley, director of Alien), The Hunger tells the strange and often bizarre stories that unfold around different people each episode, introduced and concluded by David Bowie, Crypt Keeper style. This collection, The Hunger Vol. 1 contains three episodes, "Sanctuary," "Skin Deep," and "Dream Sentinel."

"Sanctuary" tells the story of a young man seeking medical treatment from a recluse artist played by David Bowie. Before he can be admitted for treatment, the artist takes time to interrogate and analyse the man, finding out more than both of them expected. "Skin Deep" depicts a young woman who falls in love with a heavily tattooed woman, and although is warned away from her, continues the pursuit and tries to bed the saucy tattooed lady. The final story, "Dream Sentinel," stars Julia Roberts' brother Eric Roberts, as a ghost in love with an exotic dancer. But being a lover without touch becomes too much for him as he plots to make things a little more permanent.

When I started watching this, I was originally turned off by the metal musical score and sharp editing techniques used to propel the story. Then I realised that the story was written in such a fascinating way that the editing and music only made this experience more enjoyable. The writing is slow and you can be left bored waiting for the ending, but somehow it seemed to work and you still endure it until the conclusion.

The editing is very unordinary. Through many different camera angles and rapid cuts and repetitions, the editing style is fast and furious, yet contains some mesmerising aspects that keep the viewer intrigued. It did seem to slow the narrative down however, and this is something I do not like to see. The musical score is something I would not usually listen to, etiher. Loud, metal, electrical; not my cup of tea. But I was utterly amazed to find myself enjoying the music blending with the story telling. The music fits the frenetic mood of the show, from unusual stories to fast editing. It's like the wrong ingredients for a sandwich put all together to make something good.

For those put off by the evil music and editing, the show does boast some appropriately placed gore effects, nudity and sex scenes. Not always the best argument for a compelling narrative, but I've never complained about it in the past.

Far from a Tales or Twilight rip-off The Hunger certainly is an audiovisual experience. The stories aren't fantastic, but they are enjoyable, and are told in a bold and unique way that makes it memorable.
The show is presented fullframe, and looks quite impressive. There isn't anything bad to note here. Any picture distortions are done on purpose due to the editing; otherwise this is a nice and clean print.
The Hunger blares out its violent music in stereo surround, and comes through effectively without muffling dialogue or taking away viewing pleasure.
Extra Features
There are no real extras, unless you count cast bios, scene selections (I just love how this is always mentioned on the back of DVDs as a special feature), an option to view the opening title sequence and a gallery that has nothing of real value to add.
The Verdict
This is a tough one. On the one hand it has interesting stories that you genuinely want to see conclusions for, but on the other hand, the style and feel of the show can be off putting. On a personal level, I found it all to be an experience that I enjoyed. It was weird, but it somehow worked. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if this show is too much for some. I'd recommend renting it before buying. As a DVD package, it's fairly ordinary, nothing to write home about.
Movie Score
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