Cannibal (2005)
By: Devon B. on April 5, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Unearted Films (USA). All Regions, NTSC. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. 87 minutes
The Movie
Director: Marian Dora
Starring: Carsten Frank, Victor Brandl
Screenplay: Marian Dora
Country: Germany
Cannibal is based on an infamous case that occurred in Germany a few years ago. Discussing the case will cause major spoilers for the movie if you don't already know the details, so if you were in hiding when the news hit, you'll want to skip the rest of this paragraph. In 2001, Armin Meiwes posted an online advertisement seeking "a well-built 18 to 30-year-old to be slaughtered." He got a response from Bernd-Jurgen Brandes, and the two men met. The pair found what they were looking for in each other, and Meiwes casterated Brandes, then the pair ate, or attempted to, of Brandes' sausage. Meiwes then stabbed Brandes in the throat, butchered him, and ate him for the next few months. Meiwes captured the whole thing on video, and in May of 2006, he was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

That's the plot of the film as well, so if you know about the court case, you know what happens. The film starts with the Meiwes character searching for his special pal, but having trouble getting takers. He turns down one junkie in a Minor Threat shirt, which I found amusing because the junkie must've missed that whole straight edge thing Minor Threat started. Most of the early scenes have no dialogue, and there's no dialogue between characters for the first 23 minutes.

When the Meiwes character finally finds the Brandes character, we do get some brief talking. Then it's on to the guys getting to know each other, which I also found a bit boring. It does make sense that given their relationship is about their bodies, dialogue isn't really needed, but just watching them explore each other wasn't exactly gripping viewing. But their journey isn't just sexual, and certainly isn't just about hunger; the Meiwes character wishes to become one with the Brandes character. While it was interesting to see the dynamic between the two, with the "victim" clearly the dominant one, the film is too arty for my tastes. I need plot to go along with the pictures on screen, and what little this film had, I already knew from the trial. There are a few moments of extremely black humour, but they were too far between for me to remain interested.

The film reminded me a bit of Ulli Lommel's Die Zärtlichkeit der Wölfe (Lommel actually directed his own watered down, heterosexual version of this story with a film also called Cannibal), with the Meiwes character resembling Kurt Raab from Zärtlichkeit. The gore and violence are pretty intense when they finally arrive, but again, there's not much story to go with them. The FX are generally simple, yet effective, and one scene in particular is almost as graphic as what you'd find in Slaughter Disc. Another ups the ante on a staple from virtually every Green Hell cannibal flick to levels that aren't likely to be surpassed any time soon. Cannibal revels in realism, with some things, particularly the discharge of bodily waste, being really nasty. The film plays almost like a doco, with only minor changes to the events it's based on, like some things taking place outside instead of in, to drive the reality home even more.

The story itself is very disturbing and interesting. It had a cameo in Feed, and was the basis for Ramms+ein's "Mein Teil," and already has at least two films made specifically about it. I'm sure there'll be more to come.

The DVD sleeve says the disc is region one, but my player says it's all regions.
Cannibal is presented at 1.85:1 in a 16x9-enhanced print. The film has specks, grain and haze, and is a bit murky. This may have been intentional, an emulation of the actual video of the crime?
Despite being a German film, this appears to have been shot in English. Some of it seems dubbed, but it's probably just poor ADR. The film should've just been made in German, because the ADR is the one thing that constantly reminded me I was watching a movie, breaking the realistic feel of the film. The audio is a 2.0 Dolby Digital track, and is a bit loud, and the bass is way too heavy.
Extra Features
Trailers for other Unearthed Films.
The Verdict
Cannibal is a pretty straightforward dramatization of the events it's based on. I would have much preferred a film with dialogue and character development that allowed me to see how the characters got where they were, but that's me criticizing the film for not being what I want it to be, which isn't fair. The film succeeds on the levels its makers were trying for, and it could be argued it's more unnerving not understanding the characters' motivations. However, given the media blitz on the trial, most viewers can get further insight into the minds of the real life pair, so that point is somewhat moot. Yes, the actual events were shocking, but seeing them unfold in almost real time didn't make for an entertaining film for me.
Movie Score
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