Appetites (2015) Directed by Cameron Casey. Starring Lauren Parkinson and Bret Roberts. Small town waitress Daisy is a serial killing cannibal looking for a man. John Doe is a madman out to cleanse the Earth of loose women. When romance blooms, is it a match made in Hell or the end of the line for them both?
We open on a redneck sitting on his porch in the desert. He’s watching two deer mate nearby and getting pretty excited over it. After touching himself and taking a few swallows of whiskey, he heads down to the cellar of his home. There we find his two children, Daisy and massive hulk Bubba, in shackles. The deer fan savagely beats Bubba over the head and then rapes Daisy. During the violation, Bubba’s need to protect his sister overwhelms the chains holding him and he breaks free to strangle his father. In the aftermath, Daisy thanks her big brother as they stare down at their pop’s torn off head.
For a movie with quite a few comedic moments, later on, this opening black and white scene of child abuse, incest, and sexual assault is as unpleasant as it sounds.
10 years later, a man flees through the desert in terror. He is pursued on foot by the grown-up Daisy, played by Lauren Parkinson (CobraGator). Her face covered in war paint and her body clad in a shredded leather skirt that put me in mind of Xena: Warrior Princess, Daisy chases down her prey through the desert brush while carrying a modified tree trimmer. It’s like a curved scythe and a machete had a baby.
Out in the sandy heat, the unfortunate fleeing victim is tripped up in a deadly booby trap and collected by Bubba. Back at the house, Daisy cooks up some man meat and she and her brother pig out on finger food. Literally.
Hey, don’t judge. It’s a living.
Although the siblings have eked out a bizarre existence without their cruel father around, Daisy wants something more out of life. She yearns to be satisfied both emotionally and physically by a man who is not her giant brother.
Into this world comes long haired and silver-tongued ladykiller John Doe, who enjoys whiskey, strumming his guitar and belting out songs he makes up on the spot. Oh yeah, and he occasionally murders women. He is of the belief that the world would be a better place if women had less tattoos.
“You know what tattoos lead to? More tattoos.”
Man has a point.
Dogging Doe’s every step is Detective Frye, who seeks retribution against the murderer. For a killer, John is a pretty charismatic and even-tempered dude. You could see hanging out with him. When he isn’t pursuing very specific dental floss devices or bursting into song, Doe lures heavily inked women into sleeping with him. Afterwards, he strangles or stabs them to death for their “sins.” Even so much as a single tattoo on a lady is a death sentence when John is around. After each murder, he politely “absolves” the victim of their imagined sins and then goes crazy while staring into the bathroom mirror.
While contemplating how to make a relationship work, Daisy continues hunting. She runs into hitchhiker Paul, played by The Black Room’s James Duvall. It is through Paul that John Doe accidentally discovers what sort of homicidal shenanigans go on out at Daisy’s place. His reaction to the cannibal waitress in murder mode with her war paint and mad jogging skills is hysterical. He can’t believe what he wandered into!
Since Daisy can’t confide the secrets and problems of her unusual home life to her fellow waitresses at the bar or have meaningful discussions with the mentally limited Bubba, that only leaves one avenue for discourse. In one of my favorite scenes, Daisy laments her lack of romance and sex to the only people she can really talk to: captive victims.
As she’s stabbing a happy couple to death, she dishes on her romance issues and seems rather envious of what they have. I mean, had. But today’s lovebirds are tomorrow’s fried chicken in Daisy’s world.
I also liked the fact that we see our antiheroine exercising and running in order to keep up with her food. Not many movies show all the hard work that goes into being a cinematic psychopath.
As Leslie Vernon pointed out in “Behind The Mask,” it’s essential that a killer stays in shape with a good cardio workout. All those lengthy foot chases require a strict physical regimen.
As soon as someone tells me there’s a flick about two serial killers falling in love amid the violence of their bloody lifestyles, the first thing I think of is Mickey and Mallory Knox. My fear about “Appetites” was that it might end up a weak, low budget retread of Oliver Stone’s legendary 1994 masterpiece “Natural Born Killers.” They were unfounded.
Both films share a creepily incestuous patriarch and murder, but that’s about it. Daisy and John never go on a joint killing spree, and their ‘romance’ quickly lapses into a violent confrontation. Maybe some folks were just born to be single. This is the kind of indie flick that lives or dies by its performances, and Lauren Parkinson is delightful as Daisy. Get this woman more projects! Opposite her, Bret Roberts (Lucky McKee’s May, Night Stalker) shines as John Doe. He’s got a bit of Jim Morrison in him, and he’s believable as a morally dubious drifter.
Among the glut of low budget horror out there, “Appetites” is a unique diamond in the rough. There’s a certain grindhouse tone to it that blends oddball comedy and bloody murders. Dig in!