J. Horton’s Thriller Creature Feature ‘Craving’ (2023) – Movie Review

J. Horton’s creature feature, Craving, has been on my radar for awhile. I’d heard about it last year and I knew it was a film that I needed to see. I’ve been waiting to get my hands on it so I can check it out. And that day has come!

Synopsis:

A group of drug addicts are besieged by a group of mysterious figures inside a rural bar. As withdrawal starts to set in, a secret one of them is carrying threatens to destroy them all.

Craving was directed and edited by J. Horton (aka Jason Horton – The Campus 2018) and co-written by Horton and Gregory Blair (Deadly Revisions 2012).

Many crew members had double duty in the creation of this film, including Co-writer Gregory Blair acting as Travis, Producer Sophia Cacciola (our interview) as cinematographer, Actress Holly Rockwell as production designer, Actor Kevin Caliber (Ugly Sweater Party 2018 – our review) as both second unit director and producer, Special FX Artist Robert Bravo (Blood Clots 2018 – our review) as producer, and Producer Sean A. Reid (The Campus 2018) as second unit director.

Even Horton acted as editor as well as director. Besides Blair, Caliber, and Rockwell, the cast includes Sleepaway Camp’s Felissa Rose, Rachel Amanda Bryant (our interview), Al Gomez, Ashley Undercuffler, Xavier Roe, Likun Jing, Frankie Guzman, Miranda Bourke, Michael Turner Tucker, Kelsie Mathews, Sage Mayer, and Scott Alan Ward.

What Works

Craving opens up with a title card with the definition for the word “junkie:”

1.  narcotics addict, especially one using heroin. 2. One who has an insatiable desire or hunger.

This takes the meaning of the word “craving” and and narrows it down into the image of an incapacitating need like an overwhelming thirst in the desert, a desperate, life-altering yearning. Dare I say that it also compares the body’s physical hunger for drugs to its need for water and food?

The story told in Craving is fantastic with a wholly unique twist that I’ve never seen before. The setting of a rundown bar in the middle of nowhere reminds me of Feast, one of my favorite flicks, which helped to set the mood and put me in the right mindset to see how isolated and desperate these people are. I also love how the meaning of the word “craving” is so integral to the plot in more ways that one. Genius!

The characters all have their own personalities, which is something I can’t say for every horror movie I’ve seen. None of them are really likable… well, except for Travis, played splendidly by Gregory Blair, who has been amazing in everything I’ve seen him in, and Felissa Rose’s struggling Les, who’s AA chip became a part of her entire character. And I just love to hate the gloriously evil Frenzy, portrayed to perfection by Ashley Undercuffler. She’d give Baby Firefly a run for her money. And let’s not forget the creature hunters and their creepy masks.

Then there’s the creature and its transformation. Holy crap, is it cool! Created by Robert Bravo, the man behind Malvolia: The Queen of Screams – Season Four Thanksgiving Special: Thanks Killing (2020 – our review and The Campus (AKA Deathday 2018 – our review). I’m not going to spoil what it looks like… just take my word for it.

I’m also delighted by the fact that Craving is not a “good guys vs. bad guys” tale. It’s quite a feat to create an entertaining, slick horror film without the obvious black and white hats.

What Doesn’t Work

Craving is a continually intense watch. Unfortunately, that’s a bit of a problem here. The film is taut from beginning to end; it’s a tension that never wavers. So I almost became jaded to it. Through most of the film, there are never any surprises, just even tension. It’s certainly not the worst thing a horror movie can be accused of, but it’s something I did notice.

I’m also pretty disappointed that Bill Oberst, Jr. was not in Craving since he was one of the bigger names behind the film’s crowdfunding campaign. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of BOJ, and not seeing him made me a bit disheartened with the final film. But that’s obviously just a personal complaint.

Final Thoughts

J. Horton’s Craving is a taut thrill ride that never lets up. The desperate, trapped gang trying to save their suffering friend versus the group of patient, bloodthirsty hunters makes for a heady albeit even keeled film. The transformation scene at the end is worth the watch alone.

About Tracy Allen

As the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of PopHorror.com, Tracy has learned a lot about independent horror films and the people who love them. Now an approved critic for Rotten Tomatoes, she hopes the masses will follow her reviews back to PopHorror and learn more about the creativity and uniqueness of indie horror movies.

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