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Review: THE CANNIBAL CLUB (2018) – Brooklyn Horror Film Festival

There’s an urban legend that’s currently enjoying a wave of renewed popularity that claims various show business elite dine at a secret restaurant that specializes in human flesh. But then, the idea of the rich literally feeding off of the poor is an old one. Jonathan Swift tapped into it back in 1729 with his famous satire A Modest Proposal. In film, there’s the recent HABIT, though Brian Yunza’s brilliantly demented SOCIETY may never be topped within this niche.

Now from Brazil comes THE CANNIBAL CLUB, a satire on its, (and by extension the world’s), ultra-rich. Gilda (Ana Luiza Rios) and Otavio (Tavinho Teixeira) for example. He’s a very successful security contractor, they live in a lavish walled villa with a host of servants to cater to their needs and become dinner.

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From the start, it’s clear writer/director Guto Parente (MY OWN PRIVATE HELL) has no interest in subtly. Not ten minutes in, we’re watching Otavio graphically masturbate as Gilda rides the pool boy. The scene ends not only with an axe murder but with blood mixing with another bodily fluid on the floor.

Octavio is also a member of the title group. An exclusive, men only organization run by local congressman Borges (Pedro Domingues). When Gilda finds out some things about him that he would not want to be made public, the couple finds their lifestyle as well as their lives in danger.

THE CANNIBAL CLUB while never quite rising to their level of on-screen excess echoes films like SALO and CALIGULA in their indictment of the corrupting effects of power. There’s a very telling sequence in which we watch Borges treat Octavio in the same manner we just saw him treat one of his own employees. No matter how Alpha you are in your own circle, there’s somebody you kneel and bow to if you want to be accepted in the bigger scheme of things.

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Some of the film’s barbs are obviously meant for its homeland. But in a world where the divide between the rich and everyone else continues to widen, most of its points are very universal. And on that level alone, it should resonate with audiences everywhere.

On the strictly cinematic level, it moves seamlessly from biting satire to tense horror without compromising either. It’s a brash, explicit, in your face film that isn’t watered down and doesn’t play it safe. Along with TRAUMA, it’s the second film from South America I’ve seen like that in the last couple of weeks. I think it’s time to take a longer look at Latin American genre films.

Uncork’d Entertainment has picked THE CANNIBAL CLUB up for release. I caught it as part of the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival, where it made its North American premiere. It should be in release shortly after it finishes its festival run.

The trailer is decidedly NSFW.

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