Hunger [C. J. Barnes, Australia, 2018]
A fun and gory zombie short film from director C. J. Barnes. Zombies are of course an extremely popular breed of movie monster, especially in the medium of short films, but Hunger has a rather unique central idea: what if a devoted vegan became a flesh-eating zombie?
The first thing one notices about Hunger, with its establishing shots of the protagonist’s home, is the set design. Obvious inclusions such as 'Eat, Pray, Love' style feel-good vegan wall decorations go nicely with cheeky touches such as a copy of 'The Fully Raw Diet' by vegan activist and writer Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram. The set design is a strong element that leaves a good first impression of the film.
On the technical side, the camerawork is solid and does a lot to get the audience inside the silent (apart from a few moans, naturally) protagonist’s head. The shaky and swaying camera puts us into her confused and conflicted mindset. Similarly, a high rise shot during a chase makes the scene far more exciting than two people running through the woods should be.
So what, if anything, does Hunger have to say about veganism? That it is morally just and that eating meat, much like a horde of ravenous zombies chowing down on a hapless victim, is disgusting? Or that eating meat is natural and trying to suppress natural urges will only cause them to resurface with a vengeance?
Well, who knows? One of the joys of zombies as pop culture monsters if that they are thematically very flexible, having been metaphors for consumerism, groupthink and humanity’s base nature at various times in their long history in film. Hunger is a small (but nonetheless interesting for it) part of that history.
'Hunger' was a film in consideration for Short Focus Film Festival 2019.