Though I found myself a little unwell on the last weekend of Sydney’s annual horror film festival, I’m glad I summoned the strength to see Crave (2012), a thought-provoking thriller from the US directed by Charles de Lauzirika.
Initially taking on the guise of a laddish rom-com, Crave is a slippery film which lulls us into a false sense of security before pulling the rug from under our feet. Its protagonist, Aiden, is a crime scene photographer angry about the violence his work confronts him with, as well as his inability to effect change both universally and within his personal life.
This set-up might lead you to expect a dark drama about vigilantism, but Crave is more concerned with emotional immaturity and the dangers of over-indulging in fantasy. For this reason, its rom-com element, though a little protracted and irritating, is perversely appropriate. Aiden is in some ways a romantic comedy archetype, the essentially lovable but unlucky guy for whom we hope change is in store. It’s interesting to see the way in which the film subtly chips away at this archetype while still employing the narrative arc of the rom-com. Josh Lawson, a broadly appealing everyman with whom audiences empathise, was an intelligent choice for the lead role. [Interestingly, the last time I saw Lawson was as the romantic lead in a bona fide romantic comedy, The Wedding Party (Australia, 2010), reviewed rather unfavourably for RealTime here.]
Lawson is supported by an impressive cast that includes fellow Australian Emma Lung, Ron Perlman and Edward Furlong, all of whom bring a degree of dark complexity to their characters. However, in this film where romance, comedy and horror intersect in a manner more discomforting than entertaining, it’s the seemingly inoffensive Aiden who really confounds us, though the warning signs were there from the beginning.