Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Guto Parente's The Cannibal Club

Cody checks out a horrific satire from Brazil that's being released in North America in March.

Writer/director Guto Parente wasn't exactly subtle with the social commentary in his horrific satire The Cannibal Club, which is about a group of extremely wealthy people who literally feed off the poor, killing and consuming members of the working class. But The Cannibal Club is a Brazilian production, so it makes sense that these issues would be on Parente's mind. The saying "the rich get richer while the poor get poorer" is holding true in Brazil, which currently ranks #9 in the world when it comes to income inequality among its citizens.

At the center of the film's story are Otavio (Tavinho Teixeira) and Gilda (Ana Luiza Rios), a rich couple who are established members of the titular club when we first meet them. Parente really seemed to relish getting the chance to examine the personal and professional lives of these fictional rich people; we see Otavio and Gilda living the good life, lounging by the pool and eating meat; we are shown how they talk down to their employees; we see them interacting with other rich people at a party where they talk about hating coming back to Brazil after visiting a first world country, and outright say they wish the poor would die off.

A high-ranking member of the cannibal club is Borges (Pedro Domingues), who is given a great monologue during a "men only" cannibal club event where he praises those present as "distinctive men devoted to the highest values", "eternally worth of their protagonism in society". They're doing the good work in the face of enemies who "want to destroy the values of family, faith, and work". He says all of this while he and his friends feast on the meat of two people who were just murdered in front of them, the meat served to them as if it was any average meat at a churrascaria (Brazilian steakhouse). This group is very self-aggrandizing.

Situations involving Borges are also why Otavio and Gilda gradually become concerned about their standing within the cannibal club. Borges has had a member killed because he was afraid that person would give away their secret, and immediately after that Gilda catches him in a compromising position with an employee. This makes Otavio paranoid that Borges might want them wiped out next. Obviously it's tough to be in a cannibal club.

The Cannibal Club isn't the sort of horror movie where you can expect to be frightened by it; it earns a place in the genre through subject matter, not through scary atmosphere - although there are some thrills and moments of tension in the last 30 minutes or so. Other than that, it does offer sights that might outrage and / or disgust you.

Otavio and Gilda's cannibalistic activities are shown in a very explicit manner early on, and not just in the way of blood and gore. There certainly is a good amount of that, as the special effects were provided by Rodrigo Aragão, an excellent filmmaker himself (he has directed Mud Zombies, The Night of the Chupacabras, Dark Sea, and segments of The Black Fables). But what was surprising to me was the extent of the nudity and the presence of gross-out bodily fluids other than blood.

This was an interesting, entertaining, weird, occasionally troubling movie that moves along quickly and wraps things up in under 81 minutes - the sort of running time I very much appreciate. It's a well-made satire, and along with some other movies we've featured here on the blog - Aragão's movies, The Trace We Leave Behind, Beyond the Grave - is a solid modern genre offering from Brazil. It's been great to see more genre films come out of the country in recent years.

Uncork'd Entertainment is giving The Cannibal Club a theatrical release in North America on March 1st, with a VOD release following on March 5th. Check it out, if you have a strong stomach.

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