A dysfunctional family stranded in the middle of nowhere, a creepy farm and a chainsaw-wielding dude in a skin mask. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? How many times have we seen variations on this theme since Tobe Hooper brought forth THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE in 1974? The most recent variation, CANNIBAL FARM hails from the UK and tries to add a few twists to the formula The results are a decidedly mixed bag.
CANNIBAL FARM starts with a brief sequence showing how The Boy With the Melted Face came to earn his name before launching into the story proper. The Harver Family head out on an RV holiday to try to get past their many differences. After a scene reminiscent of THE HILLS HAVE EYES they are forced to seek help at The Hansen (yes as in Gunnar, the original Leatherface) Family Farm. It’s still a working farm, but the livestock they’re raising is not the usual variety. Their vacation becomes a fight for survival. Who will survive and what will be left of them?
Writer/director Charlie Steeds (WINTERSKIN, AN ENGLISH HAUNTING) certainly offers up a more complex plot than many films of its type. There is a fairly dark and convoluted backstory and some attempts to make the audience feel some sympathy for The Hansens. There are also elements from SAW and it’s sequels plus a couple of other films whose titles would be spoilers. CANNIBAL FARM is certainly ambitious, but at an hour and forty minutes, it’s a bit too long. And there are too many scenes of unpleasant, and frequently caged, people bickering and screaming at each other. Those scenes should have been trimmed severely.
When the film does get bloody though, it delivers. CANNIBAL FARM features some seriously nasty and over the top sequences. There’s a genuinely sadistic edge to a lot of this film which is certainly in keeping with its 70’s throwback vibe. Chainsaws, shotguns, sledgehammers and an industrial oven are among the instruments of death that come into play. This one plays rough and very, very dirty.
CANNIBAL FARM arrives on VOD January 2, 2018, from High Octane Pictures. Those looking for a gritty horror film should enjoy it; those with a taste for 70’s grindhouse should love it.