Cannibal Suburbia (2008)
By: J.R. McNamara on August 5, 2009  |  Comments ()  |  Bookmark and Share
Poster Art
Directors: D.A. Jackson, Jean-Luc Syndikas
Screenplay: D.A. Jackson, Jean-Luc Syndikas
Country: Australia
I have to start this review by saying that I am an unabashed fan of the guys from Pleasant Productions. Those who may have made the mistake of reading my reviews would have seen that I have covered their comic, Modern Gentlemen, Issue 1 and Issue 2. This film, Cannibal Suburbia, winner of the Melbourne Underground Film Festival award for the Best Use of the Guerilla Aesthetic, is directed by, written by, and stars various members of the Pleasant Production crew, more specifically D.A. Jackson and the definitely not French Jean-Luc Syndikas.
The film opens with a rather disgusting looking meal being prepared by a board-short wearing minstrel character by the name of Donkey Punch Disco (played by himself) for his sick friend Secret Mango (played by himself). Secret Mango has been cooped up for a while and requests, in his non-verbal way, that Donkey Punch Disco read him a story. Donkey Punch Disco decides to read him a few tales from the book Cannibal Suburbia.... and the anthology begins....
The first tale is the real weak point of the anthology, and is this meandering tale that weaves in and out and seems to have something to do with a drug deal gone wrong, a hooker, a suburban party and a pair of chicken fillets - you know, those things that girls put down their tops to fool guys into thinking they have bigger boobs than what they have (which to me should be deemed illegal as false advertising). I am not sure if I am just not cool enough or hip with what the kids are into at the moment, but I just didn't get this one. It felt like it was going somewhere and then just stopped. Maybe one day I will be lucky enough to sit down with the writers and they can help me through it.
Now the second tale is more my speed, and could have been a full feature in itself. It tells of two pranksters, Draper (Nick Barry), and Judge (Rob Alec), the second of whom is obsessed with the myth that everyone on the planet has an exact double. The two friends hang out and perform acts of stupidity until Draper sees Judge's doppelganger in a convenience store. The two decide that, of course, the only thing to do is prank the guy... which is fun at first, until they break into his house and find out what else is going on. I loved this tale, and would have liked to have seen it expanded upon.
The third is where the film really picks up.. Mike (Simon J. Green), who we met briefly in the previous tale,  decides to try a place called The Snuff Machine, a name he sees scrawled on the wall of a Men's Room. He goes there, and meets a girl (Tara Catmull), and together they journey back to her place, where she knocks him out, ties him up, and proceeds to torture him. Does that sound like Boy Meets Girl? Well even the writer's must have though so as they make reference to it. It is still a basis for a nasty tale, made even nastier by a lack of motivation...
Of course, the film returns to our heroes Donkey Punch Disco and Secret Mango, and we fade to black with them enjoying the afternoon sun, home video filmmaking and al fresco crapping on freshly beaten bodies.
I will start with a frivolous criticism of this film: I am a huge fan of female nudity, and I saw far too much man-dick in this film. I am OK with my sexuality and don't have a problem with full-frontal male nudity, but generally I like it balanced off with a bit of the same in female nudity, and there were some like looking girls in this film that could have done with fewer clothes.
My serious criticism, though, is the writing sometimes loses its way, mainly in the first story, but occasionally in the others as well. Sometimes it is just for flavour, and at times quite funny - the open night poetry scene being one in particular - but I felt on more than one occasion that I was waiting for the next thing to happen, which they did, but they took their time.
I have to give this film some credit in some departments as well. Jackson and Syndikas have some real talent in direction. Most of the film is directed with an eye for how a scene should look. Sure it is filmed on video, and looks that way, but the actual camera and scene layouts are pretty good... though the editing occasionally lets this down. They also can do something that in my opinion, the best Australian directors can do: that is, make a film look Australian. I could really smell the smells of Australia while watching the daytime exteriors of this film.
Also, the soundtrack is delicious: it feels oppressive most of the time and makes even the most innocent of actions take an ominous flavour.
All in all, I enjoyed Cannibal Suburbia, but I also appreciate it is not necessarily for everyone. Movies with a touch of scat generally aren't. Jackson and Syndikas' have some great abilities in filmaking, and I honestly can't wait to see what they release next, either in comic or movie form.
Movie Score
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