The pundits — not the conservative ones, mind you — often joke about the war that the wealthy are waging on the rest of us. And there’s plenty of evidence of that.
In America, they might confine their predations to tax “reform” and a revolution-inciting inequity in the justice system. But what about the Third World? Would they kill and eat us?
That’s the premise of “The Cannibal Club,” a bloody and bloody slow Brazilian satire about that nation’s sequestered, insulated very rich, fair-skinned folk who have all the money and all the power already. Why wouldn’t they start eating “squeegee punk” poor, the “delinquents” and “scum?”
Classic film fans can think of this slasher pic as “Swept Away” meets “Eating Raoul,” heavy-handed, wallowing in sex and slayings by the bored and depraved ruling classes. The wallowing is substituted for pacing in Guto Parente’s film.
Otavio and Gilda (Tavinho Teixeira, Ana Luiza Rios) love their beachside villa, their seaside pool. They want to keep it, which is why they have a bodyguard as well as a maid and caretaker/pool-boy.
When boss Otavio entrusts the latest caretaker with the run of the place while he runs to town, that means its playtime for Gilda. It’s just that she likes her sexual dalliances to climax with Otavio taking an ax to her paramour in mid-coitus.
Otavio gets his rocks off overhearing her frolics, and on the ax-whacking he gets to administer.
Those rare cuts of meat served every meal have don’t grow on trees, you know.
They’re a part of a whole “club” of super-rich killers in and around Forteleza, donning evening wear for midnight rites which involve watching and videotaping chained sex slaves going at it, butchered by an executioner hiding in the shadows awaiting their finish.
They gather for parties, brag about their travels — “I like First World countries so much better than Third World ones. Clean.”
“Tell me about it. It’s so depressing to come back.”
They self-righteously bloviate about “family, faith and work,” and hiss at the less fortunate.
“They should all die.”
But then a secret that this crowd regards as even darker than “We lure and kill working class Brazilians for sport” gets out, one involving Borges, Otavio’s powerful boss (Pedro Domingues). Somebody from their ranks is going to be killed.
“We’re not MURDERERS!” Otavio declares, in Portuguese with English subtitles and utterly without irony. The poor pawns they kill and consume? They don’t count.
Parente lets his sex scenes — including masturbation — go on and on. He has the camera linger over the newly ax-chopped or throat-slashed, has his “club” members stand around, nude, covered in blood as if this rite is their right.
A close-up of a rotting dog corpse is thrown in for metaphoric shock effect.
And Gilda goes to the toilet in front of us, and DOESN’T WASH HER HANDS. Savages.
There’s a funnier, more biting movie in this premise, this cast and their treatment of it. But Parente never lets his picture get up a head of steam, never lets it take off.
Suspense? Surprise? He doesn’t handle those elements with a deft hand, either.
Gore alone is not enough to recommend any movie, much less one with a bit of gruesome promise to it. Perhaps Rob Zombie will attempt a Hollywood remake and find pace that will make the dark humor play and give this politically potent premise its proper payoff.
MPAA Rating: graphic violence, explicit sex
Cast: Tavinho Teixeira, Ana Luiza Rios, Pedro Domingues, Ze María
Credits: Written and directed by Guto Parente. An Uncork’d release.
Running time: 1:20