Based on the true story of the crime that shocked the world, two men meet through the internet and wilfully play the roles of cannibal and victim. This is one of the ugliest films I've ever watched in my movie viewing years. This movie is not for the faint of heart. Cannibal wins "Banned Film" title in Germany...think about that.
The mix of sound and image is positively hypnotizing, and the little dialogue there is has been expertly placed. Once we do get dialogue, this is the high caliber of it:
"I'm your flesh."
This is the film Grimm Love aka Rohtenburg wanted to be (see my review of it for more info). Where Grimm Love failed with minimalistic dialogue and scenes that attempt to convey unspoken layers of emotion, this film exceeds expectations. The connection between the two actors is nearly tangible, and I'm glad that there is a version of this story wherein the director is not afraid of male nudity and gore, especially for the crucial biting scene. The castration and cooking scene are even more explicit, enough to satisfy my sick curiosity about this story. And my question of "did he cut off just the dick or the balls as well?" is answered. I was disappointed that there was no dialogue about the penis being overcooked, but both characters suggest it by their dislike of the taste and inability to chew the meat. The bathtub scene is strikingly simultaneously tender and disturbing and a brilliant cinematic achievement. The butchering scene is the pinnacle of disturbing cinema.
The settings are unbelievably realistic and the room where the main event occurs is a perfect amplification of the anxiety, despair, and desire between the two characters.
This is the definitive extreme film with male homosexuality. This is on par with "Trouble Every Day" when it comes to the sublimely troubling mixture of sensuality and cannibalism. Never before has a film been so grotesquely beautiful.
"Hot Gay Sex" commentary: yet another selection where the steamy sex happens alongside a MUCH more severe taboo, this time of cannibalism
"So Fucked Up" highlight (this film has quite a few): vivid penile bleeding after the unsuccessful biting, the fluids flowing into the jar immediately following the castration by knife, carrying the leaking and defecating nearly-dead body through the house, the butchering scene with the cannibal sensually worshiping the internal organs, the "morning after" breakfast
All that being said, I still admire Cannibal for its guerrilla attitude towards filmmaking: it never holds back or censors itself neither on the aesthetic or gruesome level. It's aesthetic is rather striking. I follows in the vein of the minimalist, clinical films of Michael Haneke, particularly films like The Seventh Continent, Benny's Video, 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance, Funny Games, and The Piano Teacher. It also reminds me of Takashi Miike's Visitor Q, a similarly difficult film to sit through but one that ultimately has an underlying object of critique that makes it worthwhile. But most of all Cannibal reminds me of the films of Jorge Buttgereit: Nekromantik, Nekromantik 2, and Schramm. But ultimately, Buttgereit's Nekromantik films are grossout, Freudian comedies that lampoon art films as they simultaneously participate in their aesthetic.
Dora adopts a very similar aesthetic approach to Buttgereit: dialogue is minimal while sounds and the score take up most of the sound space. Also, Like Haneke Dora adopts a clinical perspective on its subjects: the camera never seems to judge the actions of the characters--it simply depicts them to the audience. Furthermore, Dora adopts an extremely methodical pacing that almost never seems to cut away in order to condense time. We experience major events in almost real time, which is probably what ultimately makes the film so hard too watch. Dora never allows us to take our eyes away from what is happening. The camera stays on the butchery. But ultimately, Dora's aesthetic aspirations fail because the film just becomes boring as we wait for something to happen and what happens is relatively a minimal series of actions that are simply prolonged past the point of bearing.
Cannibal doesn't feature anything that I haven't seen elsewhere--well, one thing--it runs through the list of exploitation staples: castration, defecation, evisceration, cannibalism, etc. Plus, it very unabashedly depicts male nudity and gay sexuality in a way that would never be seen in American cinema, although the film's inclusion of its extreme form of fetishism (cannibalism as a sexual act) makes the sex scenes difficult to watch as well even if you are not homophobic because the film conflates acts such as fellatio with the actual eating of the penis. I am not averse to films that feature such elements. Some of my favorite films are Irreversible, Thriller, Cannibal Holocaust, Salo, etc. But those films either have a purpose or they are at least fun to watch. Cannibal is exploitation with aesthetic aspirations, but it ultimately fails to do anything meaningful, which makes it just an unbearable hour and a half of cinema. I do admire it for its balls-out attitude towards filmmaking, but I cannot genuinely recommend except to those, like myself, who crave the more extreme ends of transgressive cinema.
a million glamorized falling bodies. And that everything was consensual had my brain thinking in a sick philosophical spew. Real intense, sick, twisted and gross, but don't let anyone catch you watching this, they might not want to know you anymore.
This is a sick, repulsive experience. It is perhaps the most gut-wrenchingly grotesque experience I've ever had with a film (or any other form of media, for that matter). I've seen crime scene photos that were less effective in turning my poor, chocolate-filled stomach. Zero stars, right? Well...
I couldn't seem to pull myself away from it. The film grabbed me from moment one and honestly I never once allowed myself to shut it off or take a break. Yes, I admit that I did look away a couple of times (I was gagging and just couldn't take it), but that didn't stop me from turning right back around and watching the horrors in wide-eyed amazement. The gore effects in this film are impeccably well-done. I was shocked and horrified, thinking I should perhaps research the film further for information on whether or not they were allowed to use real cadavers, or if perhaps a man really was castrated, beheaded, eviscerated and eaten for the filmmaker's artistic (?) purpose(s). Highly unlikely, yes, but if you see the film, I think the question will enter your mind as well.
I must also mention that there is a great deal of frontal male nudity in the film, certain portions exhibiting erections, what must've been some very painful, bloody fellatio (okay, so it's not fellatio - it's just a consensual attempt at castration with one's teeth) and graphic sex. We are also treated to urination from a man's castration stump, excrement from his dying bum - honestly, about 45 minutes of the most disturbing, graphic and shocking scenes I've seen in my 25 years.
One aspect of this particular auteur's approach which I did not appreciate in the slightest was the tendency of his camera to linger, whether it be on the two actors' genitalia or the graphic slaughter which follows the grueling castration scene. Yes, this is meant to be effective, and it is, but it makes no sense that the director offers zero insight into these disturbed minds. He just wants to show us what happened without taking a stand or showing us what he thought might have been going on in their heads. It's honestly just an up-front, in your face smearing of grotesqueries on display - the sort of thing you can hardly bare to read about, let alone witness.
Why is this not a zero? Well, the film is based on fact. Look up information on Armin Meiwes, the Rotenburg Cannibal. This is his story. While I wish they had delved a bit more into these poor, unfortunate souls' psyches, it was an experience I'll never forget. Do I recommend you see it? No, not really. Did I enjoy the experience of watching it? No, not really. Will I ever forget any bit of it? No, not really. In fact, not at all.
I wasn't repulsed by the extended, and very realistic, gore scenes. What made me uneasy was that the two main characters, The Man and The Flesh, have a lot of gay sex. There is more wiener in this movie than in an Oscar Meyer documentary. This guy takes playing with your food to a whole new level. I would never make out with a PB & J...ok, maybe I would, but I wouldn't have sex with it.
The Man's voice is very annoying as well. Fortunately, he only says about ten lines in the whole film. It has a weird soundtrack. You can hear things happening in the scenes, like bottles clinking, but you hardly ever hear anyone talk.
This movie was shot with a digital camera and they used some pretty cool effects. My only problem with the visuals was that they shot the dismemberment scene really dark. It was gruesome, but hard to see what was happening.
Cannibal was more realistic than anything I have seen in a long time. If you can't handle watching a man having gay sex with his meal, then chopping said meal into many pieces, don't rent this flick. If you don't mind seeing a ton of wiener and various other meats, check it out, it is an experience.