This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Jamie M’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Daily Horror Hunt 32 - Movie #8 - Watch a soundtrack composed by Riz Ortolani. Easy pick - always wanted to watch this one. Riz went for a schmaltzy counterpoint to the brutality, I approve.
A notorious exploitation film of dubious moral efficacy but some effective delivery. I hadn’t seen Cannibal Holocaust by choice up until now. Being extreme is great - I love extreme metal and horror fiction. I’m all about exploring the darkest edges of the human condition, but it just wasn’t known for anything I put too much value in and assumed the rest of the film was trash. Even though I don’t think I was entirely wrong, I was relieved to see an actual story at work with Cannibal Holocaust - it even had a little moral message at the end. It dares to ask us a (now cliche) question… who is the true savage? Us or the tribespeople that are supposed to be the evil cannibals?
Though a good portion of the film is shot traditionally, there are some proto-found footage moments which was exciting. Even back then they wrote in some justification as to why they kept on filming once things got hairy. I wonder how many filmmakers CH inspired. Perhaps because of its desire to go for a more “real” or candid account a la Blair Witch, they lost some of the potential impact of a few scenes by lacking exposition. I think it would have been much more gripping if they vilified the cannibals more, making them utterly terrifying and then dropping the realization that they actually aren’t very hostile. This was the intended effect I’m sure, they just missed a great opportunity to deliver the coming twist they wanted to drive home.
So, the first half follows the “good guys” looking to recover the tapes. They get out without any trouble - with too sharp of a cut - and then the second half follows the misadventures of the famous film team that went missing. This is where the controversy comes in - these guys are total assholes. Like, I don’t know if anyone could be that evil. You’re quickly rooting for their deaths which eventually come to bring catharsis. There are some despicable and real animal killing scenes that have absolutely no place in the film and have aged really poorly. The ending is fine, basking in the revelation that civilized man ain’t so civilized. CH had some needlessly long rape and animal violence scenes, but otherwise it was pretty civilized for modern horror - with a surprisingly decent storyline.
Scare Factor - 6/10
Overall Score - 3 Stars