Cannibal (2010)

Director: Benjamin Viré

Starring: Nicolas Gob, Helena Coppejans, Eric Godon, Philippe Nahon

“You want to change things? To alter nature? Nobody changes. A prat stays a prat, fat guys stay fat. A whore is a whore, a monster is a monster, whatever the clothes they’re wearing.” (criminal, Cannibal)

Spare a thought for Max (Nicolas Gob). After a nasty past he doesn’t want to think about – but one you can bet will be brought up later in the movie – he’s become an agoraphobic, scared of unfamiliar environments or those where he has no control. Living a loner’s life in a cabin in the woods, Max only rarely leaves, usually to practice his golf. It’s a bit like how Tiger Woods must have been living in the days following the old ‘sinking the ball in two’ scandal.

"Shit. Better check for golf ball marks then get the hell out of here"

One day during his practice Max comes across the body of a young woman (Coppejans) lying in the grass, covered in blood. He takes her home and washes her off, but notices she has no wounds – either someone’s got the painters in or that’s not her blood. Naming the girl Bianca (she doesn’t give her own name), Max develops an odd relationship with her, one in which he falls in love but has issues with her touching him because of his condition.

"Oh dear, it would appear you've caught me with my pants down. And my gums round some poor bugger's neck"

Things get significantly less normal one night when Bianca leaves the house. Upon realising she’s gone missing Max gives chase and finds her having sex with some random bloke shortly before munching into him like he was a big human-shaped apple. Yes, Bianca is a cannibal, and she gets her rocks off by shagging blokes then eating them. Not my cup of tea but then, who am I to judge – I like listening to Cyndi Lauper and watching films about midget spies.

Disgusted but intrigued, Max realises he still loves Bianca, and so the two form an odd unspoken agreement that they’ll have a relationship while she continues to eat people. There are people looking for Bianca though, people who want to bring her back to the life she was running from.

Bianca's suggestion that she pop out for a bite to eat was met with negativity

Despite its name, premise and gory DVD cover, Cannibal isn’t actually the madcap gorefest you may be expecting. It’s actually a very artistically shot French movie that shares far more with the likes of the fantastic Haute Tension (Switchblade Romance) than it does with Zombie Flesh Eaters, Cannibal Holocaust et al.

There are some interesting stylistic choices made throughout the film, in particular with regards to colour. The forest scenes are moody and washed out, the colours deliberately muddy and the film quality deliberately gritty, grainy and decidedly low-budget arthouse. When Max travels to the city later in the movie however everything is shot in black-and-white, causing the once drab colour scheme of the forest to suddenly seem vibrant and full of life when Max has flashbacks.

Max submits his entry for the 2011 Understatement Of The Year contest

If you’re expecting gore by the bucketload here, you’re going to be disappointed. There are only one or two scenes of actual cannibalism in this film and only one of these is grimace-inducing. It’s just not that sort of film, instead focusing on the relationship between Max and Bianca and his search for her after she goes missing in the second act.

Cannibal is a slow-paced, artistic film with curious cinematography and an interesting overall feel to it. As long as you’re not expecting Dawn Of The Dead and are willing to try to click with something less visceral, you may find it to be one of the most rewarding horror films this year. Its ambiguous ending will split opinion when the film is released in late September, but it’s well worth a watch.

Cannibal will be out on DVD in the UK on 26 September. If you like the sound of it you can pre-order it for £8.99 by clicking here. If you live in the US, there are no plans to release it there yet so you might have to bite the bullet and order it from the UK store too using the same link.

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