If the title of the film, O Clube dos Canibais (its original Brazilian title) or The Cannibal Club is any indication, this film is about cannibals. In fact within the first five minutes of this ultra-violent surreal piece of Brazilian horror, directed by Guto Parente, the two protagonists Otavio and Gilda kill and eat their pool boy after Gilda has sex with him. However, the movie isn’t actually about cannibalism, which frankly I’m glad of because I couldn’t handle watching over an hour of straight up cannibal hijinks.
The film is a not-so-very-veiled dig at the ruling elite class of Brazil. All of our lead actors portray the creme de la creme of Brazilian society. Otavio is the head of a massive security company. Due to the precarious nature of the police and political climate in Brazil, most of the rich have an arsenal of private security, since they believe that the poor are subhumans out to get them.
“…two people are brought out in chains, have sex…then the rich dudes eat the couple…”
The actual “Cannibal Club” is an Eyes Wide Shut x 1000 situation where a group of the wealthiest, most important men in Brazil gather in a theater that is (likely intentionally) set up as a gladiator’s arena-meets-cockfighting ring. In this arena, two people are brought out in chains, have sex, in front of all these rich dudes, then the rich dudes eat the couple.
I haven’t seen such a giant slap in the face to the rich since Salo and the two films share a similar ideology, although The Cannibal Club might be more restrained and in some ways has a very “happy” ending. The Cannibal Club is another great Brazilian horror film to come out this year, and although the story comes from a place of grand socio-political turmoil, I’m glad that Guto Parente has the “bolas” to point out the grand inequality between the rich and the poor in places like Brazil. There is one line that a rich woman at a party says to another rich woman “This is why I love First World countries, They’re so much better than the Third World. Everything works, I was depressed to come back.”
“…approaches this subject matter with one severely brutal tongue planted firmly in its cheek.”
Such sentiments are echoed in a lot of the hyper-nationalism that is spreading like wildfire throughout the world, where the rich blame the poor and whoever represents “the other”, wishing to return to “simpler times” and to make everything “great again”. It’s hilarious and ironic when often the hyper-elite are the ones who ruin everything for everyone else to begin with, whether it’s through destroying the environment or only helping themselves while considering the poor to be animals that are beneath them.
The Cannibal Club approaches all of this subject matter with one severely brutal tongue planted firmly in its cheek. I also can’t end the review without mentioning the incredible Badalemntian score by Fernando Catatau that accompanies a lot of the more harrowing violent scenes in the film. It’s a short but sickly sweet entry into the horror pantheon that deserves a viewing from fans of the horror of political satire.
The Cannibal Club Written and Directed by Guto Parente. Starring Tavinho Teixeira, Ana Luiza Rios, Pedro Domingues, and José Maria Alves.
8 out of 10 stars