All You Can Eat (2023) Review
All You Can Eat opens with a shot of the sign for Planet Burrito, a Taco Bell type Mexican restaurant whose mascot is a three-eyed alien with a taste for human limbs that looks as if it was designed by Ed “Big Daddy” Roth. It’s a fitting image as writer/director Kieran Reed delivers a thirteen-minute trip down horror’s memory lane with an emphasis on the films of the 80s.
Nola (Verity Hayes, I Bring Joy, Cost of Living), one of the restaurant’s staff is telling her coworker Gurdip (Matt O’Toole) about an odd occurrence she had as she waited for the restaurant’s owner Kip Meatsock (Andy Muskett) to finish whatever he was doing with some Petri dishes.
A strange voice, former Dead Kennedy’s vocalist Jello Biafra, coming from an ancient payphone delivers a message about ancient cults and volatile organic matter that should not come into contact with organic matter or foodstuffs. Needless to say, they do come in contact with foodstuffs. And Nola finds herself having to deal with some Mexican food that really has a bite to it.
All You Can Eat was a labour of love that was realized by the hard work and dedication of a talented crew of people. It became more than just a ‘proof of concept’, it became a passionate ‘love letter’ to a particular time and genre of horror films. We enjoyed making the short film (looking forward to the feature) and we hope that you get as much entertainment and fun (as well as a few scares) as we did.Kieran Reed
Like most low-budget films, All You Can Eat makes the viewer wait to see its monsters, but when they appear they’re remarkable. They’re a combination of practical effects with some CGI enhancement. With their shape and toothy mouths, they resemble the alien larvae from The Deadly Spawn, as do the scenes of them tearing ay a victim’s flesh. Those mouths also bear a bit of resemblance to the killer pancakes that the alien in Without Warning tosses, and as an added bonus, they spit acidic guacamole.
The credits, in the form of a diner menu no less, roll around the ten-minute mark but stay tuned because there’s a post-credits scene that you’ll want to catch. It’s a bridge to the feature-length script, Toxic Burrito, that All You Can Eat was excerpted from. While it doesn’t add much in the way of information, it does give an idea of where the plot is heading, and that seems to be down a slightly more 70s type of conspiracy path. And who doesn’t want to see a plot involving aliens, ancient cults and brutal burritos?
In terms of flaws, there’s not much to say. Nola can be a bit annoying at times and having something replace some of her near-constant chatter would have been an improvement. Maybe some shots of a burrito with a bit of personality, something that would stand out from the horde and become a featured creature in the full-length creature feature.
With a tone that isn’t always serious or in good taste, for example, there’s a scene shot from a burrito’s POV that turns into an upskirt shot of Nola’s “Like A Virgin” panties, All You Can Eat feels a bit like a mashup of Jackie Kong’s cult films Blood Diner and The Being at times. And that’s a perfect way to approach a film like this, you can’t take it entirely seriously but it’s not an outright comedy either.
The final result is an enjoyably bloody short that will hopefully serve as an appetizer for a full-length film in the near future. All You Can Eat is currently playing festivals and can also be seen on the film’s website.