Director: Marian Dora
Starring: Carsten Frank, Victor Brandl
Release Date: 12/06/06 (DVD)
Studio: Authentic Film / Unearthed Films
Plot: Based on the true story of Armin Meiwes, whom killed and ate a man he met on the internet.
Review Score: 4 / 5
(Author’s note: This review was originally published on JedBundy.com)
The phrase “based on a true story” carries a funny connotation. Audiences view this plug-in as studios attempt to cash in. No more, no less. One recent example is the sci-fi drama The Fourth Kind (2009). When intrigued film-goers sought verification of these audio and video tape claims, they only discovered loose ties to missing person reports in the area at that time. It was labeled a hoax. The fallout brought mixed reviews, and the marketing campaign suffered as a result. But, in the case of Cannibal (2006), what if a story actually happens to be true? While the real-life case of Armin Meiwes is noteworthy, director Marian Dora’s adaptation serves as a stomach-wrenching treat for those extreme appetites.
We meet the central character, simply known as The Man (Carsten Frank). Although able to function in the real world, he is unable to secure a relationship. This yearning morphs into his ultimate fantasy, cannibalism, and spills over into cyberspace. He posts explicit ads requesting a willing participant to be killed and eaten. Much to his (and our) surprise, someone responds. A man, known as The Flesh (Victor Brandl), engages in several lewd sexual acts with The Man until their time together expires and the original request demands fulfillment.
Cannibal, Dora’s ‘tamest’ film in his directorial catalog, carries a brooding atmosphere. Ripe full of lewd homosexuality and realistic gory violence, this is not a film for the casual viewer. The film has gained a small cult following, due in part to the Region 1 DVD release by exploitation distributor Unearthed Films going out-of-print. But taking a step back and remembering the subject matter embedded in the case can help one see Dora’s artistic injections throughout. Sparse with dialogue, but heavy on visuals. Every scene is framed in a grainy, washed-out green hue. The actors are relied upon heavily to convey pleasuring expressions to grotesque acts. Well-made, given the story and budget.
There are oddly beautiful moments where Dora is trying to say something profound about Man…about society. In the beginning, Dora even gets us to empathize with The Man when he faces initial rejection. However, it’s message is somewhat overpowered by strong visual interference.