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  Cannibal Club, The Strong MeatBuy this film here.
Year: 2018
Director: Guto Parente
Stars: Tavinho Teixeira, Ana Luiza Rios, Pedro Domingues, Zé Maria, Rodrigo Capistrano, Alcântra Costa, Lc Galetto, Fátima Muniz, Galba Nogueira, Bruno Prata, Ana Cristina Viana, Breno Baptista, Juliana Carvalho, Rodrigo Fernandes, Karita Gardenia, Marco Goulart
Genre: Horror, Comedy
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Otavio (Taninho Teixeira) and his wife Gilda (Ana Luiza Rios) live a life of luxury in their remote mansion, waited on hand and foot by servants and protected by security guards who patrol their grounds day and night. But they do get through a lot of staff, and there's a reason for that. When Gilda takes a liking to the pool boy and general dogsbody, she persuades him into her bed for sex, which he willingly goes along with one night. She has done this before, since the way she achieves orgasm is to have her husband plant an axe into the heads of her lovers at the crucial moment - not that these unlucky fellows have outlived their usefulness at that point, far from it.

This caustic little horror satire from Brazilian writer-director Guto Parente did not hang around, it had its message to deliver and it did so with brevity and a grim wit, building to a punchline that seemed inevitable in hindsight, but nevertheless packed a punch in its extreme violence. The Otavios have a guilty secret, you see, and it's one they share with Brazil's most elite members of society: you should have guessed it already because it was all there in the title. The premise of a secret society that meets every so often to indulge their preference for eating human flesh may not have been a new one, but this film did not pretend it was, indeed it was very accusatory.

It's doubtful that the one percent that own 99% of the world's wealth actually are cannibals, so you could perceive a certain metaphorical quality here, yet there was also the possibility that Parente was saying, nope, I'm perfectly serious, these people do not simply have the ability to suck the world dry of blood, they can do it literally as well. As we see in the opening ten minutes, the anti-heroes carve up their victims themselves then serve up steaks made of their manservants in scenes that would make even the most ardent carnivore go off their dinners, or at least make that fork pause on the way to its destination, but later on we learn there is a whole culture of this activity.

Had the film concentrated on hapless commoners getting munched by the richest of the rich, it might have overplayed its hand too early and left itself with nowhere else to go. But there was more to this, as it turns out these wealthy parasites cannot even trust themselves when they are keen to support their own hierarchy, and the positions of power within that. So one character has offended the grand high poo-bah, and must be punished (everyone knows that his days are numbered, yet they still pay hypocritical tribute to him once he is out of the picture), a spot of foreshadowing for when Gilda stumbles across a forbidden sight at a swanky party. The leader, Borges (Pedro Domingues) is entertaining himself by being buggered by one of the security guards in a shed out the back.

Proving that even cannibals can be shocked, Gilda is at a loss of what to do with the information that Borges is secretly gay, since this would be a no-no in their hatred-fuelled community - the offhand conversational gambits we hear do these well-off deviants no favours, quite deliberately in case we felt ourselves warming to any of them. So she goes to his congressman office and confronts him, only to be met with a blank stare and a refusal to understand what she could be referring to. Initially relieved, she returns home to the modernist mansion and then Borges sets the wheels in motion to eradicate any evidence or witnesses to his hidden preferences, the implication being that with the people in charge we have right now, nobody is safe. It was a paranoid worldview, one eased by the fact this was meant to be a comedy, though it was a shade too grim to elicit many belly laughs, but it was very sleek to look at, even in its bloodiest shots, and impressed in a way that had you surprising yourself by admitting, yeah, we know what you mean. Music by Fernando Catatau.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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