Starring: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Sebastian Stan, and Jojo T Gibbs.
Directed by: Mimi Cave
Where I Watched it: Hulu
English Audio Description Available?: Yes
The plot: I didn’t bother to watch a trailer for this, but even I could figure out what “unusual eating habits” meant. So, if you think this is a spoiler, you don’t watch enough movies. The film centers around a woman (Edgar-Jones) who is trying to navigate a seemingly awful dating scene when she encounters a charming man (Stan), who invites her away for a little trip on their second date, which is bad for her, because he eats people.
What Works: I don’t know why they are beating around the bush here. He doesn’t have “unusual eating habits”, nor do they ever try and mislead you that it could be something else, like he eats roadkill or something. He’s a charming surgeon, and that alone should set off an alarm for any horror movie fan. This is obviously headed in one direction, so let’s just stop pretending like talking about this film being about cannibalism is some kind of massive spoiler. It’s what the film is about, they just don’t want to scare away any queasy potential viewers, which really isn’t fair to begin with.
That being said, while the subject does always make me feel a little trepidations, I can still sit down and enjoy a well done horror flick like Ravenous, or even this. Surprisingly, for a film likely once headed for theatres, it’s pretty decent for a straight to Hulu event.
Sebastian Stan is charming, Daisy Edgar jones is a great female lead to root for. And the film is set up in such a way that you don’t feel like she should have seen this all coming. He’s incredibly convincing, and she has a date at the beginning of the film with a guy who might be the worlds worst non-cannibal date. So, in many ways, he’s still a step up. Even when she’s in mortal danger, he’s still working the Stockholm syndrome aspect of their relationship, trying to convince her that she’s different than all the others, and they have a real connection.
i don’t want to dive much into how the film plays out, because its a lot more clever than I initially gave it credit for. There are some solid twists and turns, and things I really didn’t see coming. Even twists on top of a twist, like you think you know the whole twist, but then the whole door gets blown wide open. I was decently impressed.
Obviously, as a blind critic to those of you sighted individuals, I can’t tell you just how gory this film is visually, but there is definitely at least some troubling imagery described in the audio description, so this very much classifies as a horror film, even if this isn’t technically torture porn or a slasher film. It’s not a comedy either, like Ravenous attempted to be. This is more of a romantic suspense, where the girl just starts dating the wrong guy. Effective, and well done.
What Doesn’t Work: That first date was so aggressively bad. It really almost justifies our antagonist as a good guy, because the first date was such an incredible loser, that even though Sebastian Stan’s dangerous cannibal poses imminent danger to our protagonist, he still seems somehow better than that first guy. Even when she’s in danger, he still compliments her, and tries to convince her that the charm isn’t for show, and he really cares about her. The other guy is probably never going to ever find a girl who will ever love him because he’s just immediately intensely unlikable.
And maybe perhaps that is the point. To show the audience that the cannibal isn’t that bad after all. But considering the final frame of the film, I just think it was a tonal mistake. She could have had a failed date without him needing to be so aggressively bad. There’s a difference between writing a scene where two people just don’t click, or one thing is off, but the first guy should be banned from all dating platforms.
Aside from that, it would take a lot for me to ever really give a film about eating people top honors. It will always be a subject matter, that even when well done, bothers the shit out of me. I’m a huge Walking Dead fan, and once I learned what really lurked ahead for our characters after they left the prison, I wanted to move away from that story arc as soon as possible. I was hoping we wouldn’t linger there. And thank God we didn’t.
The Blind Perspective: The audio description here, interestingly done by the calmest woman in the world, provides such an interesting contrast to what is happening on screen. I feel like she normally is given romantic comedies, and she’s used to describing material much more light than this. Oddly, she lightened the material, and I know the filmmakers didn’t choose her, it’s just an interesting side effect. She’s the kind of voice that seems odd describing the mayhem in certain parts, almost like she’s calming you down in the process. it was such an interesting juxtaposition, I had to point it out. I think she actually made the film better, in a way that audio description usually doesn’t.
I made a similar note recently regarding the narrator of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, who has a very gruff and aggressive voice, and in some ways, that was appropriate for that film as well. It’s interesting to see how just pairing a specific narrator with a film can actually change and shape the project.
Final Thoughts: i am shocked to say I enjoyed this, as much as I will ever enjoy a film about cannibalism. It plays against the assumed genre, and feels much more like Sleeping With The Enemy than The Green Inferno. Also, two strong leading performances help seal the deal. Add to that, twists i didn’t see coming, and this film was much better, and smarter than i gave it credit for going into it.
Final Grade: B+