Eat the Rich (2023) Review
Part Lovecraftian horror, part political satire writer/director Kermet Merl Key’s microbudget film Eat the Rich had been on my radar via his postings on Facebook. But it wasn’t until he reached out to suggest I review it that I finally got around to sitting down and watching it. I should have gotten to it a lot sooner because it’s actually a lot better than most low-budget, direct to Tubi fare.
Eat the Rich was shot during the COVID pandemic and opens with Senator Jim Richardson (Raymond Kester, Chopping Block, He Knows) and his buddies harassing a waitress and refusing to tip her because they didn’t see her smile which made them feel unwelcome. The reason they didn’t see her smile is she’s wearing a mask as per government mandate. But Jim says COVID is a hoax and the governor is a cuck so Evie (Morgan Bow, So Cold the River, He Knows) gets a whole dollar just so nobody can say he doesn’t tip.
While sitting on Zoom that night Evie, her boyfriend Adam (Cody Alexander, Reunion from Hell, Savage Vengeance), Joey (Dakota Bruton, Hell Night: The Summoning, Retribution) and her boyfriend Mark (Evan Lahee, Plank Face, The Watcher by the Dead) vent about the assortment of assholes they have to deal with. That’s reinforced the next day by a visit from Evie’s father Eddie (Hauke Bahr, Myth: Bigfoot Hunters, The Art of Self-Defense).
Adam, who can say things like “He’s the plutocratic oligarchy” with a straight face, seems to be somewhere to the left of Bernie Sanders but not quite in Fidel Castro territory. He’s also very forceful about his opinions, so it’s not that much of a surprise when he takes matters a bit too far and shows up with the bound Senator in the back of his car. “Do you think activism is a Twitter hashtag?”
It’s also around this point that various video and audio glitches become noticeable. This seemed odd since it isn’t a found footage film where whatever is happening can affect the visuals. I’ll just say it’s not sloppy filmmaking and it will eventually not only make sense but become an integral part of the story.
The politics are a bit one sided and heavy handed through most of the film, though that’s probably to be expected from a film with a title like Eat the Rich. I certainly wasn’t bothered by the film’s political themes, but I can see those who tuned in hoping for a more conventional horror film being turned off by the emphasis on it at the beginning. I can also see many people on the other side of the aisle from Key tuning out before the shit hits the fan, and I don’t think that bothers him.
That happens once the cast is holed up in, where else but a cabin in the woods, we find out that there are things more evil than a corrupt senator as Adam’s true nature comes to light. But in the end, everything revolves around manipulation and control, whether by politicians or something from beyond time and space. If we’re being oppressed does it really matter by who? Or by what?
As I mentioned, Eat the Rich is a microbudget film and it was very obviously shot on video and relies on digital effects. Amusingly the filmmakers play into the SOV look with effects that look like they came from an early 90s backyard epic. Death rays that look like bursts of static are fired from characters’ fingers and the blood is an animated blob that’s no more convincing than modern CGI but has a nostalgic feel that makes up for it. The film does have one major practical effect, a shark-like creature that looks good but isn’t on screen nearly enough.
Next time out he may want to integrate the horror into the drama a bit sooner and not be quite so blatant with the messaging. Subtlety is less likely to alienate viewers, and it works better at getting people to see your point anyway.
For his first feature as a director, he previously co-wrote the feature He Knows, Key took a chance on two topics its easy to do poorly, politics and Lovecraft. The risk paid off with a quirky and amusing film with more to it than the typical creature feature. If you don’t mind the occasional bits of dialogue that sound like Twitter posts, check it out.
Eat the Rich is available on Tubi.