Horror and satire can be such wonderful bedfellows and this is on brilliant display in The Cannibal Club. With it’s North American premiere at the 2018 Brooklyn Horror Film Festival, writer/director Guto Parente’s send up of classism is brutal, bloody and clever.
Otavio and Gilda are part of the elite uppercrust in Brazil and they have the disposable staff to show for it. In fact, they utilize staff as a means to fulfill their very dark and twisted desires. Gilda seduces their houseboy and then voyeurism and cannibalism combine in a spectacularly gory way. Otavio may be waited on by staff all day, but after he and his wife get their freak on, he is more than capable of butchering and cooking his former houseboy. Members of a secret society of wealthy cannibals, Gilda and Otavio will find themselves on the wrong end of the leader of this society and their lives will be put in jeopardy.
Borges is the leader in question and he wields so much power that a member who is suspected of talking about their society too freely, is mysteriously killed in an accident. Honestly, to refer to these people as a society seems a bit too favorable. When these men have their secret parties, their means of entertainment is so ugly and disgusting, that I would hate to ruin the shock by speaking of it.
As seems to be the norm in rich communities, it’s a very small social circle where boasting of your own wealth is considered fun party banter. After one couple speaks about their trip to a first world country where they enjoyed, “Civilized people, well mannered, clean, totally different from here.”, everyone laughs about third world countries and they talk about how they wish they could murder all of the dregs of society. While, I’m not certain where they think their next meal is coming from if there aren’t any downtrodden to exploit and consume, it isn’t lost on them that they are rich because they don’t live in a first world country, so they remain where they can feel superior and treat others like literal pieces of meat.
The Cannibal Club is almost too overbearing with it’s critique of classicism, but Parente showcases an ugly premise in a beautiful way and all is forgiven. With a couple of scenes falling just short of a snuff film, The Cannibal Club still maintains an aura of class and wit. Tavinho Teixeira and Anna Luiza Rios are both stellar in their roles. They each inhabit a different flavor of self righteousness and selfishness that only wealth affords and while their marriage may be unconventional, it’s certainly not to be trifled with.
Running only 81 minutes, The Cannibal Club is a lean, mean piece of cinema that has a bone to pick (all puns intended) with politics, prejudice and woefully misplaced feelings of superiority.
Played as part of The Brooklyn Horror Film Festival
Lisa Fremont | Twitter: @lcfremont