Film Reviews

Fresh, or: Reasons to Go Vegan

*Spoilers follow*

Unsurprisingly, a lot of our loosely structured themes on the Collab end up veering into horror territory. However, I think the unintentional cannibalism subtheme of the past couple of weeks is a first, even for us. This week’s pick has been getting a lot of buzz for its disturbing scenes in the vein of Sweeney Todd, though I can’t help wondering if some of the more upset stomachs have ever been around for a Julia Ducournau film.

The Film:

Fresh

Director:

Mimi Cave

The Premise:

A young woman who has all but given up on the world of dating is thrilled to meet a man who seems to good to be true…and definitely is.

The Ramble:

Noa has been on too many dating apps to count, and all she’s got to show for it are men who overshare details of their indigestion and share unsolicited dick pics. After a rather depressing evening, Noa discovers she has absolutely nothing in the fridge and must venture into the world for sustenance.

While in the produce section, Noa encounters surprisingly charming and extremely good-looking Steve, who more or less feeds her grapes?! It’s a more interesting trip to the store than I’ve had in a long time anyway. Desperate for the rom-com style meet-cute promised by any number of ’90s films, Noa gives Steve her number. Encouraged by bff Mollie, Noa decides to embrace the whirlwind romance that ensues.

Shortly after a single dream date where Noa feels really connected to Steve, she agrees to an impulsive weekend away. While Mollie gets rather sketchy vibes from this whole setup, she decides to be happy for her friend as long as she gets updates over the course of the weekend.

Of course, as soon as the couple arrives at their destination, it’s revealed that Steve’s isolated house in the country has no internet or cell service. Following their very first night in the house, Noa wakes up in a darkened room with Steve…who reveals he has drugged her and chained her to the floor. And it’s all in the name of cannibalism. Obviously.

To her horror, Noa learns she’s not alone in her prison, and is one victim among many in a massive underground bunker built expressly for the purpose of keeping women alive as Steve slowly carves them up. Not only does Steve enjoy human flesh himself, but he’s become a legend as the personal human butcher to the 1% of the 1%, who will pay excessive amounts of money for a taste.

With only the voice of Penny, the woman in the next room, to keep her relatively sane, Noa plans her escape. She quickly realizes a charm offensive is the way to go, though will Noa be able to stomach that any better than the prospect of pâté made from human liver…at least until Mollie can find her?

The Rating:

4/5 Pink Panther Heads

This one has such a twisted heart, and I love it for that. It has many of the same instincts of Promising Young Woman, or perhaps the feel of a horror written by Margaret Atwood. Thank god this is a comedy, as the truly disturbing themes and events (and the ways they stand in for sexual violence, psychological abuse, and human trafficking) throughout would be even more nauseating without the film’s sharp humor. I applaud the well-timed comic use of soundtrack in particular.

I appreciate that the film establishes Noa’s perspective initially, specifically where Steve is concerned. Steve doesn’t have horror movie music playing in the background when we meet him as, through Noa’s eyes, he’s a charming and good-looking man who is miles apart from anyone on the dating apps. Though there are hints that all is not well with Steve, the film is careful about not making Noa’s failure to see his real intentions at all her fault in any kind of victim-blaming way.

Daisy Edgar-Jones does great work here, but it’s Sebastian Stan who has the flashier role, and I already feel like I’ve been haunted for years by his character. He’s honestly fun to watch as he’s such a nightmarish figure, flipping so easily from sweet to seething. The way Steve is willing to believe Noa could genuinely care about him while keeping the threat of physical violence in his back pocket (even throwing around the vomit-inducing take on “you’re not like other girls”) feels like a chillingly accurate reflection.

I’m here for Mollie and her brilliant use of reverse Google image search–the best on film, in my opinion. I got a laugh out of one of the characters starting to investigate some of the disappearances and then bailing…especially since it allowed female solidarity to shine.

Word of advice: don’t try to watch this one while eating dinner.

Would my blog wife serve up some home cooking for this one or send it right to the chopping block? Read her review to find out!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal, or: Art Is Pain

No regrets about our recent picks on the Collab, but my brain could certainly use a change of pace. The old comfort of B-movie madness seems to be the only part of the world that consistently makes sense, and the joy of picking apart the major leaps in logic in a film is my drug of choice. While we anticipate a different & extremely buzzy cannibal movie (looking at you, Fresh), here’s one to tide us over.

The Film:

Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal

Director:

Boris Rodriguez

The Premise:

When an artist discovers he finds inspiration in bloody violence, he’s hesitant to stop the sleepwalking acts of cannibalism he witnesses.

The Ramble:

While driving along snowy country roads to start a new job teaching in a rural school, serious artist Lars hits a deer with his car. As it’s dying in agony, Lars makes the decision to end the deer’s suffering…by repeatedly bashing its head with a rock. In the midst of this unsettling spectacle, the local sheriff happens to walk by, cautioning a guilty-looking Lars not to leave the deer in the middle of the road. This does not bode well.

Years ago, Lars was a rising star in the contemporary painting scene, though he no longer paints, much to the dismay of the school principal, who had hoped to drum up some money based on their pseudo-famous hire’s career. Guaranteeing funds becomes especially important when the institution’s wealthy benefactor dies, leaving a fortune to the school, as long as care for her nephew Eddie is provided (IDK what kind of lawyers would sign off on this, but ok).

When he is assigned to care for Eddie (seriously, the logic never makes a lot of sense on this), a silent man with a cognitive disability, Lars learns that Eddie has a secret quirk: at night, he sleepwalks and unknowingly preys upon small animals. Eddie regularly returns home covered in animal blood…until the night he’s covered in human blood.

Lars would probably be more disturbed by this in normal circumstances; however, he finds the blood and guts stir up long-dormant artistic inspiration. Once again painting masterpieces, Lars is reluctant to intervene and, in fact, covers up Eddie’s acts of cannibalism. Predictably, this opens up the door to an ethical downward spiral as Lars shifts from accomplice to vindictive God figure, pointing Eddie towards anyone who is a bit of an asshole.

While Lars begins a romance with a fellow teacher he’s been crushing on and revels in his artistic acclaim, the sheriff becomes suspicious of the number of disappearances in their quaint small town. It’s all going to come down to the classic Hollywood dilemma: romance or cannibalism?

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

Okay, there are a lot of plot points that don’t make sense, but I have a lot of appreciation for this one’s incredibly dark humor and interest in exploring themes related to the creative mind. Our film has a lot to say about human nature and the lengths we will go to when justifying bad behavior. I never get tired of a film that underlines the hypocrisy of the mythology surrounding a tortured genius, and I enjoy how director Boris Rodriguez approaches things here.

Lars is an interesting if not particularly likeable character, ultimately becoming a sort of Dr. Frankenstein figure who is more monstrous than his creation. Eddie’s existence is a stark contrast, and he’s incredibly sweet. He’s got more than a bit of a Fido zombie quality to him, and I’m guessing the zombie mythology wasn’t embraced largely because “sleepwalking cannibal” makes for a catchier B-movie title.

I will say the characters don’t make a lot of sense here, as their opinions of Lars swing wildly from distrust to complete trust, condescending art prick to pure-hearted golden child. Lars himself makes really odd choices, like agreeing to take care of Eddie and taking the teaching job to begin with, neither of which we really get much of an explanation for. Teacher crush Lesley is just annoyingly written, not a fully formed character in many ways.

Considering the title, I believe we could have gotten a much wilder story to rival our favorite B movies from the Collab. Lesson learned: no cannibal film will ever beat Ravenous, though I did have fun with this.

Would my blog wife pair this one with a nice Chianti or leave its limbs scattered in the woods? Find out in her review!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Ravenous, or: Battle of the Beards

Another Monday, another blog collab!  Check out Christa’s review here!

The Film:

Ravenous

Where to Watch:

Netflix

The Premise:

CANNIBALISM. Nineteenth-century California. I have nothing else to add; you’re either into it or you aren’t.

The Trailer:

The Uncondensed Version:

So Guy Pearce is getting a medal for his brave service in the Mexican-American War and attending a nice dinner with a bunch of military dudes. Basically, it’s good to be Guy Pearce…for about 3 minutes. He’s really grossed out by everyone’s eating sounds/the bloody steak, which is giving him really bad war flashbacks. When he goes outside and throws up, I guess it’s the last straw for the general (or whatever his rank is?) because he suddenly decides Guy is heading to a remote fort in California.

When he gets to the fort, Guy realizes this is essentially high school; we’ve got the leader, the religious dude, the drunk guy, the extreme army man, the quiet one, and the stoners.

A Native American figure stands with a dog in the middle of a snowy, mountainous landscape.
I’m not even going to pretend I could afford to live anywhere in CA, wendigo or no.

Their delicate social hierarchy is thrown into chaos with the arrival of a severely injured Robert Carlyle (so you KNOW shit’s about to go down). It’s going to be battle of the beards b/c extravagant facial hair was a legal requirement for all serious-minded 19th-century dudes. Not sure what this says about me at the moment, but I kinda dig that every dude in this move seems to be going for the Jesus look.

RC tells his sad story, which is essentially a condensed version of the Donner Party. After they got stuck in a cave, the pioneers all started to eat each other. RC started to feel stronger and in general manlier after consuming human flesh, but he also developed an intense craving for it. George, the Native American guy who likes to get high with David Arquette (seriously), warns everyone about wendigos, but no one is particularly concerned.

Most of the men at the fort form a search party because when RC ditched his group, he left the only lady alone with the insane captain who led them down the path of cannibalism. Perhaps unsurprisingly, shit goes down almost immediately. One of the men falls halfway down the mountain they’re scaling, and all the other dudes secretly breathe a sigh of relief b/c least competent member of the group has already been decided. The injured guy wakes up in the night to find RC licking his wound (not a euphemism), so RC asks the others to tie him up. He starts freaking out as the group approaches the cave, and Guy + super soldier go in to investigate.

Pretty quickly, they realize this is a trap; there are 5 skeletons hanging in the cave, making RC the only survivor in their party of 6…aka the MURDERER/CANNIBAL/WENDIGO.

Actor Robert Carlyle wears period clothing, long hair, and a beard. He is smiling with blood visible at the corners of this mouth.
Please, PLEASE quit OUAT and make more movies about cannibalism.

At the moment of their realization, RC digs up a knife he’s buried in the woods and kills everyone in the group to a very lively bluegrass song. Well, everyone except Guy Pearce. Guy shoots him, but RC is pretty much immune to death. To escape, Guy jumps off a cliff and rolls with the dead super soldier, who comes back to life and tries to kill Guy. Bonus points for this unexpectedly becoming a zombie movie.

Guy eventually makes his way back to the fort, where the military higher-ups don’t believe his story. Since the colonel is dead, the fort is in need of leadership in the form of…Robert Carlyle. Of course. He makes Guy look extra crazy by “proving” he’s not the same man as he is totally free of injury.

When Guy confronts him, RC tries to get him to come over to the dark side. This might be Interview with the Vampire minus Kirsten Dunst?

Somebody else turns up dead, and Guy, who already seems suspicious, is locked up in preparation for a military prison. Also the colonel is alive again b/c he’s a wendigo now. He and RC convince Guy to eat human flesh stew in order to stay alive.

Shortly thereafter, the colonel starts losing it. He lets Guy go, and in exchange, Guy puts him out of his misery.

Then Guy goes after RC while wearing a really comfortable looking sweater.

A man with a well-groomed beard and a blue knitted sweater stands in an old fort.
Don’t ever make assumptions about people with comfy sweaters.

Three possibilities here: one dies, both die, neither dies. Mostly because I can’t think of an interesting way to describe the extended fight scene that is also rife with sexual tension, I’m going to leave you with that.

A man with a bloody nose and mouth stares intensely at another man who is covered in blood.
Seriously, please tell me whether Guy is making a sexy face or a murder face.  Inability to differentiate between the two is the number one reason I have misgivings about relationships.

Also because I’m on a power trip.

The Critique:

I don’t know, I suppose what I really wanted of this movie was more cannibalism. Is that a strange criticism? I don’t care; IT’S VALID. It wasn’t quite as creepy as I wanted it to be, but that’s really the eternal problem, right? Also I wanted Guy Pearce to have less of a moral compass. I don’t understand how killing people AND hanging out with Robert Carlyle could be anything but a win-win situation.

However, I did really appreciate all shots of Guy Pearce looking like a moody Jesus (and there were A LOT).

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink Panther 3/5 Pink Panther Heads

I’m not sure I totally understood this movie, but it gets a star for cannibalism, Guy Pearce, and Robert Carlyle, respectively.

Find out what Christa thought here!