Monday, January 29, 2018

Film Review: Cannibal Farm (2017)

Cannibal Farm (aka Escape from Cannibal Farm) (Review)
United Kingdom/2017
Format Viewed for Review: Google Movies
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a mishmash of good and bad ideas."

In the British countryside, a vacationing family is captured and tortured by a vengeful farmer and his deformed son.

Cannibal Farm follows the Harver family: Wesley Wallace, the stern step-dad, Katherine Harver, the nonchalant mother, Toby Harver, the smart-mouthed eighteen-year-old son, Sam Harver, the youngest son, and Jessica Harver (Kate Davies-Speak) and her boyfriend Kurt, who really need money from Wesley and Katherine. This family goes on vacation across the British countryside, trying to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city—to a place without stress or technology. However, at night, their trip is quickly sabotaged. The group ends up at the Hansen farm where Hunt Hansen and his deformed son are farming people. The plot then starts to throw an endless barrage of pointless twists, hoping that something sticks—and most of them don't. It leads to a predictable and underwhelming ending.


Cannibal Farm is a mishmash of good and bad ideas. The first act is clearly inspired by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes. It is derivative, sure, but it's also very interesting and effective for fans of those films. Then, it appears to take a turn, shifting towards the 'splatter' genre of films. This is where the film starts to go downhill. Don't get me wrong: I love some brutality in my horror films. In this case, there is a severe lack of tension to compliment the gore and the gore itself isn't particularly effective. Some of the death scenes look great while others look downright silly. Then, for its final act, it goes back to something like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre while packing in more unnecessary twists. It feels like a movie that wants to pay tribute to the classics that inspired it, but at the same time, it feels like a movie that doesn't know what it wants to be.

Cannibal Farm has more issues, too. The film often feels lost and disjointed. It feels like segments of the movie are missing. Something is about to happen, but it skips over some plot points and cuts to something that happens a lot later. This creates a jarring effect. On top of that, the movie is around 100 minutes long, but it feels like it should have been shorter. It just doesn't have a lot of memorable content. I will say, I really enjoyed the first act of the movie, I liked the Hansen's family background, I liked the homage to Leatherface, and I thought some of the death scenes were effective. I liked some of its other ideas, too, but they weren't executed well. So, I don't think this is a bad film, but it's not a very good one, which is disappointing since I've been waiting to watch this film since I first watched that original trailer years ago. (It's been years, right?)

The acting can be hit-or-miss. I'll be blunt: a lot of the acting is mediocre. I don't blame all of the actors, though. Some of the dialogue was just very stiff and unnatural. Kate Davies-Speak performed well as the leading lady. David Lenik was decent, too. The film was shot well. I thought there were some nice shots in here. The music was another mixed bad—some of it was good, some of it was bad. The film was written and directed by Charlie Steeds. Steeds was clearly inspired by some of my favorite films and, for the most part, I think he nailed the vibe/style that he was aiming for. I applaud him for that. In terms of writing, the plot is contrived, confused, and occasionally boring. The direction is a bit better, but it still feels like a mess. I feel like many of the film's issues would have been fixed with a better screenplay. Hell, with Steeds' passion, which is obvious in this work, I think this film would have been perfectly fine without all of those attempts to differentiate itself from its inspirations.

Overall, Cannibal Farm is a disappointing film. It has a strong first act, it has some great moments, but most of the film is jumbled and forgettable. If you're a fan of the genre, this might be worth a stream if it ends up on Netflix or Amazon Prime or it might be worth a cheap rental, but I wouldn't go out of my way to see it. I am looking forward to Steeds' next work, though. Hopefully, he continues to improve.

Score: 4/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore.

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