From a seedy study of sexual obsession to a deliciously disturbing comedy of manners, Jonas Wolcher’s Cannibal Fog mixes art-house sensibilities with gastronomic gore. The film’s focus is the fleeting pleasures of consuming alongside the physical and mental ecstasy and transformation that it, if you’re lucky, can bring. To lift the lid on even the opening credits would spoil the succour of the whole.
The action takes place in an urban cityscape and the isolation that speaks of, whether it’s architect-manicured concrete or depersonalised, boxy apartments. These people (and their inspirations) are all trying to feel. This is emphasised by dirty-docu direct realism that switches to in-scene video recorder during some of the sexual sequences (yes, it’s that kind of film). Realism is often achieved simply because the characters themselves are going through the motions, yet the camera also shows vital understanding in long-shot driven night sections and extreme close ups that manage to evade common cheese.
It’s a tricksy film and flits between genres thanks to Wolcher’s deft direction, editing, producing and just about everything else. Some sequences, especially those featuring Albin (Malte Aronsson), appear gross to the point of parody. This is not bad acting as much as an indicator of how ludicrous our daily rituals are. It’s what happens when our wants are displayed rather than devoured for personal enjoyment. Indeed, a frankly fabulous sequence sees perfectly odious characters portrayed for the prats they are and manages to make their ridiculous traits more believable the longer the camera lingers on them. It’s neither acceptable nor polite but, damn, it’s appropriate, and Anders Dahlberg (as Kay-Roy) and Gustav Magnarsson (as Pierre Le Wine) deserve praise for their preposterous posturing. It’s scenes like this that’ll make you forgive the aftertaste of the occasionally samey starter sequences.
Highfalutin daftness comes at a price and Cannibal Fog earns it with its story arc. It is the essence of postmodernism, combining spirituality with the emotional punch and grue you might expect from a film with ‘Cannibal’ in its title. It subverts assumptions and makes the eating of flesh seem somewhat sweet because it’s luridly visceral. You can believe that the blood is the life because of delicate flavours and outright splash Aronsson and Linus Karlgren (as Michael) bring to their roles. Additional characters such as Ida Karolin Johansson as Lotta add to the mix, the latter a special kind of sexy-mental that sprinkles curiosity into the narrative. The entire thing is then energised with a score that veers from dirty rock’n’roll through to a skewed, Sigur Ros-like positivity that comes when digestion has been achieved and light has faded into absorption.
Cannibal Fog is a finely mixed, jangling masterpiece of humanity masquerading as merry mayhem. Everything from the mise-en-scène through to the camera motion underpins its metaphors and while it has extremely strange cinematic flavours, there’s definitely room for more.
Serving suggestion: not before lunch.
CANNIBAL FOG / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: JONAS WOLCHER / SCREENPLAY: JONAS WOLCHER, BRIAN BELL / STARRING: MALTE ARONSSON, LINUS KARLGREN, KIM SØNDERHOLM / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW