Cannibal DVD: Review By Dodd

A solid horror film from our Canadian friends.
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
A solid horror film from our Canadian friends.
Absolutely no special features.
For the past few weeks I have taken on various straight-to-video horror titles for MovieWeb, and it has been a tasty barbeque. These are films that speak for themselves with excessive DVD covers. The imagery is so outlandishly trashy, that I have never bothered to drop my hard-earned money on horror that not only doesn't take the genre seriously, but also fails to even be clever in its splattery exploits. However, I have learned something from this binge on the low budget. Sometimes the cover art does not always speak for the film, which leads to today's lesson: do not judge a book by its cover. Instead judge it by Dodd Alley's reviews.

Obviously there are some films that speak for themselves on the video store shelf. Earlier this month, I reviewed Candy Stripers, and the half-mutant busty nurses on the front cover describe this film in a nutshell. Then there are films such as BTK Killer with promising cover art hiding its true awfulness. Finally, there are the outlandishly bad DVD covers that negatively promote a fairly decent film. This week, that film is Cannibal.

If you are thinking that Cannibal is a disgusting, exploitive film about senseless man-eating murderers, you are wrong. However, this misassumption should not be anyone's fault. The DVD release company is clearly attempting to skewer gore-hounds by producing a schlocky DVD cover of a woman eating an eyeball.

The truth of the matter is, Cannibal is not what it claims to be. It is really a somewhat artistic horror film/love story from our neighbors in Quebec, Canada. Originally released with the more fitting title, White Skin, this is the story of a college student Thierry (Marc Paquet) looking for love in his life. A particular music student on campus named Claire (Marianne Farley) catches Thierry's eye, but he doesn't quite understand why. Generally he is sickened by redheaded women because of a phobia for pale skin.

Thierry and Claire fall for one another hard, but complications arise. Claire constantly suffers from mysterious health problems, she shows racist tendencies towards Thierry's black roommate Henri (Fr&#233d&#233ric Pierre), and her family members are strangely overbearing. Before long, Thierry and Henri come to realize that Claire may not be part of the normal human race.

I could uncover why distributors chose to call this film Cannibal, but it wouldn't do justice to this film's mildly clever twists, stylish direction, and dead-on commentary. The issue of eating people is indeed brought up, but not in a blatant manner such as eating an eyeball, as the cover suggests. The film handles this particular plot device with tact and does not let it divert attention from the big picture. Cannibal is really an intense story with underlying subtexts about racism and acceptance.

Prior to this, I have had little exposure to Canadian horror with the exception of David Cronenberg's films and the teen werewolf flick Ginger Snaps. Unlike the previously mentioned titles, this one comes from the heart of French Quebec. While the United States tends to veer more towards commercialized horror, it seems that Canadian horror aims more for clever commentary on the state of the world. Cannibal is certainly not secretive about its agenda. This is not a horror film that asks viewers to scream, but to become psychologically frightened by its combination of social reflection and the existence of monsters.
Unfortunately, this DVD does not come with any special features. Considering that the film has a lot to say, I really wish the filmmaker could have contributed something. Perhaps there are more goodies on the Canadian copy titled White Skin.
Widescreen (1.78:1) The look of this film is a very glum one. Filmed on location in Quebec the setting is very snowy and cloudy. This manages to go hand-in-hand with the recurring issue of pale skin. The film lacks vibrancy, but it would not be as effective if it strived to be more colorful.
Dolby 2.0. The sound is a major issue here. Upon starting the movie, you may hear the English language. It will not take one long to realize this is a dubbed English track laid on the film. The DVD also has the original Frnech language track with English subtitle capabilities. Depending on your preference, each one of these sound options is available.
Standard DVD keep case. The front cover shows an over-the-top photo of a woman's face while eating an eyeball. This cover is a poor choice that does not match the true tone of the film, but I suppose trying to reach gorehounds is the best way to make quick profit.
Believe it or not, Cannibal is an above-average horror film in the disguise of an unworthy splatter flick. The storyline is rather fascinating, and the horror strikes more subtly than standard American horror. If you are a fan of the genre and looking for a taste of what Canada has to offer, Cannibal is worth the rental.

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