Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Long Pigs

This movie is based on a really interesting premise:what if a pair of documentary filmmakers decided to film the exploits of a cannibal? If the result had lived up to the promise, this would be a highlight of the mockumentary/found footage genre. While it's not a failure, it could have been way better.

Anthony is a gregarious, personable fellow. He also kills and butchers people in order to eat their flesh. This makes me wonder how the filmmakers joined forces with him. Did they put an ad in Craigslist Canada? It's pretty random. Anyway, he lives alone and has a pretty cruddy job as a valet at a restaurant. He fancies himself quite the gourmand and rhapsodizes at length on the sublime qualities of eating humans. Most disturbingly, he is able to narrate the cleaning/dressing/gutting process of preparing his meat, while he's doing it. The special effects are quite striking, and the blunt nature of the scenes where anuses are tied off (in order to prevent contamination of the meat) and bodies cut to pieces makes this uncomfortable viewing. It's pretty gross.

Unfortunately, though, the general tone is at times a little precious for my liking. The music gets cutesy/ironic during some scenes. Some of the dialogue is contrived - or maybe just beyond the acting abilities of those involved. There's a running bit about how different people taste like what they eat, which I suppose is plausible but came off to me as just kinda dopey.  The irony comes early and often, as in Anthony saying he's a mellow and peaceful guy compared to others on his beer hockey league, then going bananas during a game. It's too easy for a movie about a doofus cannibal to veer into slapstick, really. Even a side trip to a pig farm is a little too pat - not that it wasn't interesting, but you'll know what I mean when you see it.

It seems like this is the barest of bones of a concept. It runs a scant 78 minutes and some of that time seems like filler. A couple of plot points are shoehorned in and it's difficult to tell why people are doing what they're doing, except maybe because in a movie about a cannibal people are going to need to be dispatched and eaten. Also, as you can see in the picture above, dude is fat, so I get that he eats a lot, but the amount of people killed in this movie would keep anyone fed for weeks on end. Either he's the pickiest eater of only the choicest cuts or he's got more than one freezer stuffed with parcels wrapped in brown paper.

There are two scenes in this movie that make it something worth watching: one is the opening scene in which Anthony shows off his prowess at cleaning a carcass. It's disgusting and feels transgressive in a way few movies are able to pull off. Even more affecting, though, is a scene later in the film involving the father of a 7 year old girl who was killed and eaten by Anthony. The film crew, in a show of just how talented they are  at being compassion-free hunks of shit, are interviewing the father under the guise of obtaining footage for a TV show "about lost kids". The father is easily the most talented actor in this film, resulting in some actual emotional heft. It's definitely a great moment in an otherwise flawed film.

Tomorrow:Someone's Knocking at the Door

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