Cannibal (DVD)

Cannibal DVD reviewReviwed by Johnny Butane

Starring Carsten Frank, Victor Brandl

Directed by Marian Dora

Released by Unearthed Films

There’s a problem in Germany. Apparently someone out there raised their kid to believe that cannibalism was okay, but that’s not the issue I refer to. No, the issue is that someone decided to make a film about that person who was a-okay with eating people and somehow make it a dull, plodding art film.

I mean really, when we’re dealing with a person whose only life-long desire is to consume another human being, don’t you think a film about the person could be at least a little interesting? Or is that too much to ask?

Based on the true case of a man who posted an ad looking for someone to eat online and actually found a willing victim, Cannibal tells of a bald and goateed deviant (Frank) who is very picky about whom he decides to ingest his first time. The first half hour or so of the film consists of dialogue-free scenes of him meeting and rejecting (or being rejected by) potential victim after potential victim.

Finally he finds someone who wants to be eaten just as badly as he wants to eat someone (Brandl). The two of them meet up and immediately begin a very strange relationship that consists of doing pretty much everything in the nude together (for those of you uncomfortable with man-on-man action, you will want to avoid this) until finally the victim says that it’s time to take it to the next level.

Cannibal DVD review (click to see it bigger!)So in the middle of the film are scenes of the man losing, then regaining the nerve to go through with it. Finally he cuts off the victim’s penis, cooks it up, and feeds it to him. Yes it is as disgusting as it sounds, but the problem is that it’s filmed in such an artsy way, with all the dialogue and sounds seemingly done after the fact, that it loses a lot of its impact aside from the purely visceral. You won’t have any emotional connection to either of these characters as they’re never really established as real people; they come across as caricatures of the real men involved in the case as the director saw them.

The last third of the film (and it’s really divided up at almost a half hour per section) is just scenes of the cannibal killing, gutting, and eating his victim. No dialogue, nothing done to give it any real emotional impact, it’s all shown very matter of fact with long shots and extreme close-ups. I couldn’t really tell if director Dora had done this to gross out the audience (and some of the scenes are very nasty) or to show it as a simple fact of this man’s life, this is what he’s always wanted to do and takes pleasure in, but my god was it ever dull.

And that’s pretty much the long and the sort of Cannibal; though the story is fascinating and twisted, this film is anything but. The killer and the victim are painted about as two-dimensional as can be (“I am your flesh” is how the victim introduces himself…) and their interaction with one another is more akin to an interpretive dance than a real human relationship. Granted, when you meet someone with the intention of eating him, you’re not going to exactly chat about the weather or current events, but something tells me there was more to these men’s relationship than just sitting around naked.

Cannibal DVD review (click to see it bigger!)Now, as for the DVD … well, it’s odd. Unearthed just recently announced this title and apparently it was either a last-minute acquisition that they just waned to get out there or no bonus materials were available for it because this disc is 100% bare bones. It’s a shame, too, as I’m sure a commentary or making-of may have shed some light on the intention of this film and perhaps made it a bit more enjoyable.

The only real selling point Cannibal has is its graphic depiction of cannibalism. There are some nasty, nasty moments throughout, but you have to get through a whole lot of nothing before you see them. If that’s the sort of thing you’re looking for, then by all means check it out. If you’re looking for a film with more of a plot and story, perhaps you should wait for Grimm Love, Marin Weisz’ adaptation of the same true story, which helped him land the gig directing The Hills Have Eyes 2.

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