Cannibal is a 2006 German direct-to-video horror film written, directed and produced by Marian Dora.
In 2001, German citizen Armin Meiwes posted an ad on a website called The Cannibal Café looking for a young man who wanted to be murdered and eaten. After multiple failed matches, Bernd Jurgen Brandes replied to his ad. Video camera recording, the two men first fried and ate Brandes’ severed penis together, then drank some wine and kissed. Their date ended when Meiwes murdered his victim (in accordance with Brandes’ wishes), cutting him up and eating various parts of his body. Meiwes, also known as The Rotenburg Cannibal and Der Metzgermeister (the Master Butcher), was eventually arrested over a year later after police learned of the details of the killing on the internet.
In my opinion, this is such a ridiculous premise for a movie. Like anyone is going to believe any of this could happen. I mean seriously, to think that…wait, what? That is a true story? And The Cannibal is based on the factual details of the story? I think I’m going to be sick.
Marian Dora’s The Cannibal is a movie that, if found on an unmarked VHS tape, Charlie Sheen would most likely report to the FBI. It is an intensely disturbing film depicting in graphic detail the meeting of Meiwes (The Man) and Brandes (The Flesh) and the events that follow. In terms of how disturbing and realistic this movie is, it falls somewhere between the August Underground films and Luka Magnotta’s home movies. It’s telling that director Dora’s next project is The Profane Existence, a horror anthology featuring segments by Uwe Boll (Postal), Ruggero Deodato (Cannibal Holocaust), Andrey Iskanov (Philosophy of a Knife), and Ryan Nicholson (Gutterballs), and featuring Clint Howard (Ice Cream Man) and Tina Krause (Blood and Sex Nightmare).
The first sequence opens with a mother’s voice reading Hansel & Gretel (what else?) to a wide eyed young child. As the opening credits roll, the camera pans over various books, starting with children’s story books and slowly fading into books about the Nazis, Jeffrey Dahmer, and anatomy. Can you tell where this is going yet?
At first, it appears The Man is trying to meet men online. We go back and forth between his posting of what look like personal ads to his various failed meetings. At one point, he walks up on a junkie with fresh track marks on his arm wearing a Minor Threat t-shirt (irony not lost on this aged punk rocker). The Man checks him out, eventually walking away with a disappointed look on his face. When he finally meets “the one,” the excitement in the air could be cut with a butcher knife. He shaves, irons his pants, dusts and sweeps his place, then leaves to meet his mate.
We follow the couple on a delightful afternoon, two kindred spirits finally becoming one. They share snacks, reading books to each other and stealing kisses on the side. They romp playfully and naked in the yard, rolling around together as if they had always known this day would come. Shadow puppets on the wall are giggled at, wine and cigarettes are shared. But once we hear the phrase “Bite it!” we know that we, the viewer, will never again be the same.
There is very little dialogue throughout the entire movie, and the soundtrack is very subtle, both details lending themselves to a disturbing tone throughout. Once the meet-up has happened and the two men make their way back to The Man’s place for the inevitable, an eerie green hue envelops the frame. It is at once gritty yet graphically clear, often a Barbara Walters blur framing the close-up, ambiguous, hairy body parts that rub against one another. When the characters do speak, their words are matter of fact yet ominous. The first forty minutes is a calm, creepy build-up to what we know is coming, but once we get there we still wish we had a few more minutes of our lost innocence.
This is one of, if not THE, most disturbing movies I have ever seen. I could list every ensuing detail, every spoiler, and you still wouldn’t be ready for the graphic detail and realistic look of the climax of this movie. There is rough, graphic sex (for some reason accompanied by horse sounds) as well as snuff-like gore, including a drawn out penis removal scene, followed immediately by what I can only imagine Hell’s kitchen would really look like as the penis is fried and then shared between the two men. From here on out, it only gets worse.
This is the first movie in a long time that disturbed me to my core. The entire second half of this movie is non-stop suffering, sadness, dismemberment, and cannibalism. It feels very real, like the viewer is watching from the next room, but also like the viewer is watching something real. The scary thing is, somewhere out there exists video of the actual events. I wonder, does that then make Dora’s The Cannibal a remake?
I cannot emphasize enough how badly my skin is still crawling, now two days removed from watching this movie. There are images (and sounds) permanently burned into my memory that will not be going away for a long time, pushing aside the turtle mutilation from Cannibal Holocaust and the animal crackers scene from Armageddon. How can we walk away from this experience with any feelings of comfort, knowing that people like The Man are actually out there? Take solace in this: Armin Meiwes, the real-life version of The Man, is now a devout vegetarian.