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Review: Timely and affecting, ‘Eat Me’ makes an awkward transfer from stage to screen

Jacqueline Wright and Bard Carter in the movie “Eat Me.”
(Blue Fox Entertainment)

As gutbucket personal-project indies go, the volatile, graphic and (somehow) corny “Eat Me” couldn’t have arrived at a more propitious time for a story about the nightmare of sexual assault. Except that actress/writer Jacqueline Wright’s adaptation of her controversial, trauma-inspired play (which was staged in L.A. in 2005) doesn’t fit easily into categories like horror or thriller or issue drama, and at times even hopes you can choke out an uncomfortable laugh.

A one-set two-hander taking place over a night, it starts with a deliriously despondent, housebound woman (Wright) jolted from her pill-gobbled suicide attempt by a home invasion. After a prolonged sequence of degrading, violent rape-torture, her attacker (a demonic Brad Carter) comes to realize his ready-made prey has an armor of audacious, mood-jarring self-loathing that, once she voices it, opens his own psychic wounds.

The theatrical origins of “Eat Me” are ever-present, and not very successfully hidden by director Adrian Cruz. (As for the aforementioned stabs at humor, the less said the better.) But if you can get through the first half’s repulsiveness in word, deed and exploitation-adjacent rendering, Wright’s and Carter’s committed mosh pit waltz of bloody, angry Act 2 unburdening — simultaneously garish and sensitive — creates its own weirdly galvanizing, human tension.

No easy path to forgiveness and communication, this one, but as a tour-de-force howl of primal, damaged rage, it contributes in its own strange way to the current era of public reckoning and testy healing.

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‘Eat Me’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills

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