Otavio and Gilda are a wealthy Brazilian couple who enjoy partying with friends and living a luxurious lifestyle. They look like any other upper-class people, but in reality, they belong to a social club for cannibalistic elites. When Gilda accidentally witnesses Borges, the head of the club, involved in some secret activity, she and Otavio must survive the threat of Borges and his hired guns.
If this sounds like a good time to you, then buckle up for writer/director Guto Parente’s The Cannibal Club. Parente’s film is 81 minutes of pure entertainment, serving up a generous helping of sex and blood with a splash of dark humor and tension.
The Cannibal Club is, above all, a good time. The film balances its more risqué material with hilarious dialogue and chemistry, thanks in large part to performances by Tavinho Teixeira as Otavio and Ana Luiza Rios as Gilda. The two play their parts perfectly, giving their characters a bit of complexity when they so easily could have been one-note. Teixeira portrays Otavio as a pompous jerk and raging lunatic, but also as a devoted and loving husband, however irritating he may be to his wife. Similarly, Rios plays Gilda as open-minded and compassionate, despite her penchant for seducing men to their deaths.
It’s important to note that The Cannibal Club makes surprisingly little use of its core concept. That is to say, there isn’t a ton of cannibalism to be seen. In fact, the main plot really has nothing to do with the titular Cannibal Club or its happenings at all. The same story could have taken place within a book club, a country club, or any other invitation-only group. This may come as a let-down to those who go into the film expecting Cannibal Holocaust levels of mayhem, and who won’t settle for anything less.
Similarly, The Cannibal Club utilizes its satire sparingly. Though decidedly tongue-in-cheek, the social commentary is never quite as searing as it could have, or perhaps should have, been. It’s clear that The Cannibal Club believes the class divide in Brazil is absurd (that assessment is a bit too on-the-nose, with the rich quite literally eating the poor), but doesn’t say much on the subject beyond that. This causes the thesis to get cloudy after a while. However, the obviousness and soft bite of the film’s overall sendup don’t take away from its smaller moments of humor, and The Cannibal Club does a fine job of poking fun at its characters when it takes the time to do so.
Despite a lack of human-on-human snacking, The Cannibal Club manages to live up to its own hype of being a wild ride. There is plenty of nudity, blood-letting, and gunfire to satiate the needs of any action enthusiast. Although not exactly scary, you can rest easy knowing there is enough suspense, particularly in the final minutes of the film, to merit its inclusion in the horror genre.
The Cannibal Club is good, gross fun. There’s something here for almost every type of horror fan. The film is political, but accessible to those who don’t mix film and politics. It’s bloody, but leaves behind over-the-top gore. There’s humor, but won’t put off those who dislike horror comedy (the film never crosses that genre line). Whatever your niche, you’re likely to come out of your experience with The Cannibal Club very pleased.