Jul 15, 2008

The Plot: Based upon a very popular true story of a German cannibal who began his career as a human-eater by placing an advertisement on the internet. After meeting many and deciding they either weren’t right (too fat, bad conditions) or they backed out – he met a man who truly wanted to be devoured as much as he wanted to eat human flesh. So, essentially this film just tells the tale of these two meeting and the strange and disturbing final hours of a very confused man. From the train station to our cannibal’s home and then finally… to the slaughtering room.

The Review: That’s a pretty sparse plot summary isn’t it? Well, don’t blame me, how much more can you derive for a synopsis? Thankfully the film happens to be a little more padded out than my rather simplistic summary, and is infinitely harder to digest (pun not intended). I had heard about the actual case that the film is based upon quite a while ago and was intrigued I’m sure just like everyone else was. A man of his own will goes to a cannibal and lays himself on the dining table? There was question as to what kind of sentence Armin Meiwes (the real cannibal) should get, being that his victim was supposedly voluntary. I don’t think anyone could argue that Meiwes didn’t deserve a sentence, and at first was only given eight years but after the case was brought back up and finally people started asking if his victim was truly mentally capable of making the decision that he did (not to mention Meiwes was still interested in getting right back to the game, and was picked up after putting up more ads on the net) and Meiwes was given life in prison. That’s all factual dealings with the case however, but how does this film stack up to the actual events? Well, it’s both good and bad in many ways. I figure if you’re going to make a film about actual events, I prefer for filmmakers to stay as close to reality as possible and I think the filmmakers did that with this film for the most part. I don’t know every last detail to the story, so I don’t know if the two ran in fields completely nude as the film presents – but as far as the things we know, it is very close to the story. Some of the actual messages he left on web forums are repeated in the film through scenes of him typing, as well as the basic facts of the death and what we know are shown in linear fashion. There are a few things I am unsure about however, and that would be the presentation of Meiwes showing so much remorse whilst going through with his actions. I suppose only those who saw the videotapes of the actual events might know, but from all recounts of the actual happenings – Meiwes didn’t have much trouble eating his lover, and was aiming to begin his search again.

This is one of my problems with the film, and I can’t quite say whether or not the filmmakers are correct in their assessment or not. I however find it hard to believe and see it as an opportunity for the filmmakers to humanize the character, much the way the Marquis De Sade is consistantly portrayed as a strange lover who is persecuted by a society unwilling to adapt to change – and not the child molesting criminal that he was. Kind of strange thinking isn’t it? Regardless, this isn’t really the place to be judging either man – but it simply seems disturbing to me to humanize those who likely didn’t show those human emotions, because maybe a mentally sick man might be alive. With my moral fable out of the way, I will say that Cannibal is an absolutely stunning film in terms of visual filmmaking. A green tint covers the entire film and gives it a look of grunge and decay, very fitting to the story itself and overall the cinematography is very well done on all counts. The story itself is a hit and miss afair, the intro to the film is very slow moving and covers Meiwes attempt to find a willing victim. This sequence goes on for quite a while and you really have to wonder if this wouldn’t have been better fit for a short film of some kind, but only with this particular script. I think if the filmmakers would have delved into Meiwes relationship with the internet and maybe showed more of his personal life to give a better idea of just how he was able to do all of this it could have been informative and also more filling for the film. That is just my take however.

The gore in the film, which is what many of you reading are more than likely most interest in, is superb without a doubt. The castration sequence which is talked about everywhere you look in regards to the film is quite intense, although not the most graphic I have actually witnessed. However, it is a big step above Cannibal Ferox in terms of gore FX and 100% believable in the way it is pulled off. If you are a man, you will cringe. Lord knows my legs were crossed so hard I began to worry I was castrating my own self… but maybe that’s too much information… I’ll move on. Overall, is Cannibal a new classic? I’m going to say no, it is not. It is a film worth seeing if you’re interested in the case and it is worth seeing if you’re a gorehound looking to play the completest – but the film lacks a certain depth to it to warrant calling it a great film. It is like a dry run or a rehearsal for the actual film it should have been, whereas Nacho Cerda’s Aftermath was equally as simplistic in showing things in an A, B, C fashion – Cannibal doesn’t have the running subtext that Aftermath did. There are a few things to be taken from most audience reactions to the homosexuality on display within the film, but that is not from anything special that the director did other than showing two men bucking while in the doggystyle position. Not anything overly impressive, and can be hard to sit through for a hetero man like myself (Does that make me homophobic? Sorry, but it grosses me out – and I assume graphic hetero sex scenes should more than likely gross out homosexuals) but nothing that just knocks the wall down in terms of new and innovative ideas or concepts. I give the film a three, because it is competently made and tells a story that I find interesting. Some might get more of it, but I found it a bit of a let down but was most impressed by the gore on display and the brutal head-first display of the entire ordeal that took place.

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