Being touted as one of the goriest films in years, Brazilian Horror hit The Cannibal Club, directed by Guto Parente, premieres in select North American theaters on Friday, March 1, 2019, and On Demand, Tuesday, March 5th, all thanks to Uncork’d Entertainment.
Our story revolves around an elite Brazilian couple: Otavio (Tavinho Teixeira: Purple short 2012, Batguano 2014), the owner of a top security firm, and his lusty wife Gilda (Ana Luiza Rios: Cidade Nova short 2015, The Last Breath 2016). The pair seem to be having some trouble with keeping employees at their beautiful, beachside home, but that just might have a little something to do with their off-kilter, personal proclivities.
These bizarre preferences can be linked back to Otavio’s membership in the elitist Cannibal Club, where he hobnobs with the uppermost echelon of society, including Borges (Pedro Domingues: O Shaolin do Sertão 2016, My Own Private Hell 2018). A prominent congressman who has made it abundantly clear that loyalty is sacred, Borges demands one hundred percent compliance from his disciples. When Otavio and Gilda are invited to a private party at his estate, she will witness something that will leave the pair in grave danger and fearing for their lives. Too soon Otavio will have to learn that, no matter your perceived status, this world is always dog eat eat.
Clocking in at 80 minutes, The Cannibal Club is presented in Portuguese with English subtitles, and was written and directed by the talented Guto Parente (The Monsters 2011, The Mysterious Death of Pérola 2014). It also features the acting talents of Zé Maria (Sonhos de Peixe 2006, Açúcar 2017); Rodrigo Capistrano (Road to Ythaca 2010, Com os Punhos Cerrados 2014); Alcântra Costa (Guerra da Tapioca TV movie 2017); and more.
Billed as one of the goriest films in years, does The Cannibal Club live up to the hype? Well, no. While it is certainly not lacking in gooey red stuff and there’s a brutality to the on-screen action, the film reads somewhat like a very loose Brazilian spin on 2000’s American Psycho, full of snark and satire, sex and, well, one brutal-looking axe. Here, Parente has injected bits of sociopolitical commentary, plenty of nudity, and a dose of patriarchal society to create a story that is much more than merely man eating the flesh of man. Perhaps this particular reviewer is merely invulnerable to violence and blood, but, in truth, The Cannibal Club does not feel any more extreme than any of a dozen other films to come out in recent years.
That said, the acting is solid throughout, though the script is a bit cyclic here: Otavio hires a new caretaker for his posh home, Gilda seduces said employee, Otavio kills him, they feast, repeat. It’s not until Gilda is witness to a seemingly innocuous event that the ball gets fully rolling, and the event itself feels entirely unmonumental. Although the story does contain an interesting (and lucky) turn-about, it’s not the most intense of films and you’ll be hard-pressed to find yourself on the edge of your seat.
In truth, the cannibalism aspect of the tale is hardly its main plot point, more a figurative metaphor and an add-on for shock value; The Cannibal Club is much more about class struggles and the Brazilian elite than it is about eating human flesh. A well-done film that will hold your attention, this is hardly a bad choice for a weekend viewing but it’s certainly not going to be the most shocking or grotesque offering to cross your television screen.
For the average American with little knowledge of the Brazilian struggle, the satire and sociopolitical commentary will be largely lost, and The Cannibal Club will merely be appreciated (or not) for its basest offerings: blood and sex. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock give The Cannibal Club 3.5 of 5 stars.