Crave attempts a tricky revision of a particularly loathsome off-shoot of the vigilante film that’s explicitly driven by the hero’s whiteness. In these films, which reached their nadir in the early 1990s with Falling Down, the central white dude is normally driven to kill perceived social inferiors by matters of generally minor inconvenience, because his lifestyle has somehow failed to protect him from the day-to-day instabilities that less fortunate folks simply accept as a given.
Director Charles de Lauzirika and co-writer Robert Lawton clearly understand that this kind of narrative is going to be justifiably greeted with skepticism nowadays, which is to say that they don’t quite try to position their literally delusional white dude as the sympathetic center of their film. Aiden (Josh Lawson) is clearly supposed to be gross: He sells photographs of crime scenes to sensationalistic rags for money, and he extorts a payday from a rich former client when he discovers that the guy has a jones for teenage girls. The effect that this man’s hungers may have on the girls is clearly never a concern of Aiden’s, despite his frequent yammering via voiceover about the pitfalls of morality, as he simply wants the cash to enable him to live in a fashion he’s convinced he deserves despite so much evidence to the contrary. Aiden is also bedding his much sexier, much younger neighbor, Virginia (Emma Lung), because, well, this is ultimately the kind of pandering male fantasy where things like that happen, despite any reasonable understanding of discernibly human behavior.
It doesn’t really matter that the filmmakers know Aiden’s a pig either, because we’re still expected to spend nearly two hours in his company, wallowing in his disgusting, stupid, boring, narrow-minded predilections. Aiden isn’t a fascinating, revealing loser of stature like Travis Bickle, and he’s not an arrested-development case admirably wrestling with his shortcomings like the protagonist of Spike Jonze’s Her. Aiden’s just a dipshit, poorly and obviously played by Lawson, who eventually turns to killing because otherwise there’d be no narrative, or point, to speak of. And the film’s method of admitting its own hypocrisy so as to enable it to further indulge said hypocrisy grows more grating than if it were merely indifferently conceived junk like Falling Down. At the beginning, a cop played by Ron Perlman wryly observes how cute it is that Aiden is doing the angry-white-guy thing from 1992. He’s only half-right.