14th Mar2019

‘The Cannibal Club’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Tavinho Teixeira, Ana Luiza Rios, Pedro Domingues, Zé Maria, Rodrigo Capistrano, Alcântra Costa, Lc Galetto | Written and Directed by Guto Parente


Cannibal movies are normally always controversial movies. Cannibal Holocaust is probably the film genre fans instantly think of when you’re asked to name a film about people eating other people but there’s a long list of banned and gory movies. Hannibal has had a TV show and many movies, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise has had a few highlights, while more recently the coming of age Raw and horror western Bone Tomahawk have shocked audiences. But Brazil’s The Cannibal Club is a very different thing.

It is a kind of dark comedy about sex and cannibalism, which seems a pretty odd thing. If you were unsure what route The Cannibal Club was going to take, the first ten minutes will quickly tell you. As we see a woman have sex with her pool boy, while her husband secretly looks on pleasuring himself. After a small amount of time he enters the room and uses an axe to kill the pool boy. Who is then used as a meal. I’m sure some people might turn off at that point but there was still another seventy minutes or so to go!

The rest of the story revolves around the secretive, wealthy and exclusive (men only at the get-togethers!) titular Cannibal Club but never really goes into great detail on it. Instead focusing on when Gilda (the wife in the first scene) discovers a secret about the clubs leader and congressman, Borges, which could lead her and her husband in trouble. Personally I would have liked to have heard more about the club, its history and its members. Instead things run along at a steady pace until they quicken up a bit for the final act.

Now, if you like sex and gore, and many genre fans do, this film should make you very happy because it features plenty of both. As Gilda, Ana Luiza Rios is prominent in the sex scenes but she’s also the most charismatic member of the cast and therefore stands out as a highlight. The gore is entertaining in itself, with blood often sprayed across very white walls and sheets and like in that first scene, an axe being the weapon of choice, always creating a good splatter effect. Much of this accompanied by a decent piano-led score which, at times, works surprisingly well.

Yet for the most part, The Cannibal Club feels like a bit of a missed opportunity. The dark comedy isn’t there enough to make this some kind of satirical comedy, instead it might just make you smirk every now and then. And the main story just seems to scratch the surface of something that could have been much more.

A quick Google tells me there is actually a wealth of Brazilian horror movies out there that I should check out but this is, I think, is my first one. With a bit more thought, The Cannibal Club could have been the Brazilian equivalent of American Psycho but, as it currently stands, it is instead an entertaining enough low-key piece of cinema sex and gore.

The Cannibal Club is available on demand across the US now courtesy of Uncork’d Entertainment.


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