The Cannibal Club is a delicious, though not filling, satire
The Brazilian import The Cannibal Club, now available on VOD, is a nasty and classy horror-comedy.
The film focuses on one member of the titular, all-male club, the wealthy Otavio (Tavinho Teixeira), whose wife, Gilda (Ana Luiza Rios) also enjoys his “hobby.” They help themselves to the help. In the opening scenes, she lounges idly around the pool, eating a plate of meat, and attracts the attention of the couple’s hunky caretaker, Josimar (Bruno Prata). When Otavio goes off on a business trip, he gives Josimar a gun and tells him to keep an eye on Gilda. Moments later, Josimar is seen having sex with Gilda, only to end up spraying her with blood, not another bodily fluid. Otavio, lying in wait, has plunged an axe through Josimar’s head.
Yes, ten minutes in, the cannibalistic couple are standing naked by a fire, roasting their latest meal. While it’s not quite Eating Raoul, writer-director Guto Parente’s The Cannibal Club, is an arch satire about conspicuous consumption. Cannibalism is always a metaphor in cinema, and Parente’s film is no different. Here the easy target is the Brazilian elitism, and an upper class that exploits the poor, treating them like playthings.
The Cannibal Club is also commenting on issues of shame. A subplot involves Gilda catching Otavio’s boss and Club member Borges (Pedro Domingues), in a compromising position with Lucivaldo (Galba Nogueira), Otavio’s security guard. Can she politely ignore what she can’t unsee? A razor-sharp scene between Gilda and Borges is blisteringly funny as they discuss what they both pretend didn’t happen.
Yet at 80 minutes, Parente’s film is almost too lean. The men-only black-tie meeting of the titular club is a scene that should have a little more oomph to it. In addition, when Jonas (José Maria Alves) is introduced as the couple’s new caretaker in the last act, what transpires is unsurprising—especially given the ominous and overly symbolic corpses Jonas sees on his way to and at his new employers’ stylish abode.
But despite this quibble about some obvious plotting, The Cannibal Club generates a fair amount of tension—and some darkly funny laughs—as the dénouement plays out. There is a surprise or two in store for the characters, if not the audience, and Parente caps his film with a memorable final shot. In fact, the entire film is gorgeously lensed; the film’s upscale production design is particularly terrific.
The director also coaxes game performances from the entire cast with Rios a standout as the coy seductress and coconspirator. Her body language conveys much when she is not speaking. As Otavio, Teixeira is suitably slimy, which is why he is so entertaining to watch.
The Cannibal Club may only be skin deep, but it’s delicious fun.
The film is available on VOD March 5.