Film Review: THE CANNIBAL CLUB (2019)

A literal member of a cannibal club, Otavio (Tavinho Teixeira) uses his private security company to live in the lap of luxury. Together, he and his wife Gilda (Ana Luiza Rios) are two of Brazil’s most elite inhabitants. When money is no object and boredom strikes hard, the only thing left is to turn to cannibalism. During one of their lavish get-togethers, Gilda stumbles upon a secret of Borges (Pedro Domingues), a powerful congressman and the head of the cannibal club, that puts the duo in the crosshairs of his goons.

Cannibalism is literally a metaphor for the rich eating the poor. It’s a bit on-the-nose, but nothing about The Cannibal Club is all that subtle. Despite its satirical nature, this film is extreme. The opening sequence involves Otavio watching his wife have sex with the cabana boy in their bedroom. Did I say watch? I meant Otavio stands in the hallway, naked, cranking his penis with unreserved intensity, with an axe in the other hand. Before he cums, he runs into the room and drives the axe into the head of the cabana boy, dripping blood and semen over the nice plush rug. Yeah, not subtle. Despite the copious amounts of nudity and pantomimed sex, the gore is fairly minimal, and the cannibalism isn’t even much of a driving force in the film. Cannibalism is implied through shots of rare steak being consumed, but no one goes full Atroz by tasting bits of flesh, or excrement in Atroz’s case.

A distraction with plenty of violence and humor, The Cannibal Club is unfortunately problematic for a 2019 audience. While being a cannibal is fine, adultery is all good, murder is cool, being a homosexual, however, is apparently so out of the realm of acceptable behavior in this high society that Borges goes so far as to kill his flesh-consuming brethren in order to keep this a secret. That seems incredibly far-fetched, even for a film about socialite cannibals. My other umbrage is with the treatment of women. Gilda simply exists in order to lure men into the bedroom in order for them to be axed by a masturbating Otavio. Women are not part of the men’s club and simply exist for sex and looks, a distraction for the men and nothing else. Again, these are the only parts that aren’t played for laughs and truly hide no deeper subtext. They are simply expired thoughts that society is moving past, even in the realm of extreme horror.

Despite my criticisms, as dividing as they may be, the film is still largely enjoyable. It is hard to recommend The Cannibal Club outside the extreme horror community even with its tame sense of violence. However, it is filled with enough male and female nudity to make any fan of old 42nd Street skin flicks happy.