Combining elements of “Cube” and “Saw,” the thriller “Hunger” manages to leave audiences wanting more “” not in a way of “wow, I wish that kept going,” but “wow, that never really went anywhere, did it?”

Too bad, because of all eight initial “Fangoria FrightFest” offerings, this one has the most intriguing-on-paper premise, with five strangers waking up trapped in an underground dungeon. At first, they don’t realize they’re being watched via surveillance cameras by a cultured, refined scientist (Bjorn Johnson) who’s just running a real-time, 30-day experiment to see what happens when his subjects go without food.

Director Steven Hentges opens the film with an eerie, claustrophobic feeling, casting his actors in near darkness, which lends the proceedings an almost black-and-white feel. Things get brighter “” visually, not thematically “” and among the lab rats in a maze, Linden Ashby and Lori Heuring more than acquit themselves with strong performances.

“Hunger” is not bad; in fact, it’s better than merely competent in terms of style and shots. But when there’s not much more to do than talk, 104 minutes is a running time that overstays its welcome. And that’s even with the soundtrack’s ironic use of The Fray. “”Rod Lott


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