There are few things in the world more taboo than cannibalism. The concept of dining on one’s own species ignites a deeply rooted, primal fear and repulsion that rivals only a small list of phobias. As such, it makes a perfect device for a movie. There are many films out there with ‘cannibal’ in the title, however director Manuel Martin Cuenca’s CANNIBAL is a study in contrast. While the underlying theme of eating human beings haunts almost every scene, the movie is about so much more than just that. The result is a lengthy however emotional glimpse into the life of a reclusive individual who is simply looking for love.
If you are not familiar with CANNIBAL, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Film Movement:
Carlos is the most prestigious tailor in Granada, Spain. His life is a study in details, from the meticulous suits he creates for wealthy clients to the macabre murders he executes in the shadows. He performs these gruesome acts, including dining on the women he kills, without guilt or remorse. When Nina, a beautiful young immigrant from Romania, comes looking for her missing twin sister, she awakens in Carlos a kind of love he’d long since written off. As their relationship builds, based on secrets and deception, Nina’s pure innocence will become undeniable, even by Carlos, a man driven by a dark secret. Cannibal is, in the end, a demon’s love story.
This film is not what I was expecting it to be. It’s labeled as a thriller, however it’s more of a slow-burn drama that climaxes with a quiet whisper than a bang. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it is a nice deviation from overdone tropes regarding cannibalism. However, the length of the movie is what hurts it in the end.
CANNIBAL is shot very well and looks great onscreen. The cinematography is more a visual display of artistry rather than a simple Hollywood-esque way of telling a story. I admit this style takes a while to get used to (there are many single-angle shots of long scenes), however once you are acclimated to it, you’ll find it actually enhances the film.
I am a bit up in the air in regard to the acting. I like both of the main performers…however this film and script do not do a stellar job of showcasing their talents. Not that this is a bad script by any means. However, because of the nature of his character, titular human-carnivore Antonio de la Torre delivers almost every line with the same simplistic, almost monotonic style. The actor never has a chance to show us anything else.
The storyline of CANNIBAL is a dramatically-infused mystery of sorts that takes a while to get going. But once it picks up speed (about an hour into the film), things start to get interesting. Unfortunately, during the time it takes to get to that point, not much happens. There are a couple of false starts, where I thought something was going to happen…however, nothing did.
Still, I cannot deny how much I enjoyed CANNIBAL once it took off. And I actually liked the ending, although I will wager some viewers will not. I recommend giving this film a look. However, be warned: there is no English dubover; it is just Spanish language with subtitles, so if you don’t like reading, I would steer clear. The film is available now in a variety of formats.