Cannibal Holocaust

Cannibal Holocaust ★★★★

Watching this today, I can only guess what it must have felt like watching it back in the early '80s. Its still horribly powerful, horribly authentic and, frankly, horrible.......but it's power can't be denied.

Even though I really don't like watching animal cruelty in any form, I opted for the original version, real animal kills and all. Horrific though they are, they do lend the film a grim authenticity so when the real human blood letting begins, which looks terrifyingly realistic in itself, you're already at that suspension of disbelief level to fully buy into what you're watching.

The film is interestingly structured - part found footage, part not. The two elements mesh quite cleverly together, with the overall structure helpfully addressing a lot of the criticisms of 'pure' found footage films - people are watching the found footage with a view to showing it, so it has temp music, etc already added to make it 'viewable'. Clever stuff, in a way that so many newer found footage flicks just ignore.

Some of the acting is questionable (anything from the opening), but the natives certainly look and act the part. And even the 'lost' film crew have their moments where they look scarily convincing. Put together with the still amazing special effects, you're left with a film that genuinely looks more realistic than about 90% of other similar films that came before and after.

But. And its a big but.......its still a nasty little film. Deodato himself has questioned it and said, I believe, that he wished he hadn't made it. Alongside the animal killings, there's rape and other such uber violence and its all done with a seeming relish. Yes, the people doing it are supposed to be horrible human beings, but still......there is a glee to most of this that is hard to stomach. Even when the antagonists meet their well deserved end, there's no thankful catharsis, a la Joffrey or Ramsey on GoT. It just adds to the general grubbiness of the whole thing.

Which is where it still has its power. Is it a great watch? Nope. Is it fantastic film making? Probably not. Is it enjoyable? Definitely not. But is it powerful? By god, yes. Immediately after it finished as I was brewing up and thinking about the film, I could feel my feet begin to itch......and I thought that it has literally made my skin crawl. Can't say many films have ever done that!

Summary - grubby, grim, in fact not nice at all......but for me, its still got a power to it. Recommended is not a word to use, but for those with a curiosity of extreme cinema, its worth checking out.

Mark liked these reviews