We Are What We Are : A Brief Guide to Cinematic Cannibals

A Brief Guide to Cinematic Cannibals

November sees the release of hotly tipped Mexican spin on the cannibal film We Are What We Are (2010) in UK cinemas. Stark, brutal yet also blackly comic and at points strangely moving, the film is a radically unique take on the cannibal genre. We take a quick look down the various forms on-screen cannibalism has taken.

Silence of the Lambs
In the unlikely occurrence that ‘Name a fictional cannibal’ is ever a question of Family Fortunes, it is without doubt that Hannibal Lector with be the top answer. Sir Anthony Hopkins rightly won the best actor for his performance the sinister doctor, and while he may have tipped over into self parody in his later appearances, he is still one of the most chilling villains in all of cinema.

We Are What We Are (2010) - Movie PosterCannibal Holocaust
Unquestionably one of the most controversial films of all time. Director Ruggero Deodato even had to go to court to prove that the horrific violence was staged, and the uncut version of the film is still banned in the UK due to real scenes of animal killings. Yet the ‘found footage’ style of the film is still an influence today, with The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, and Paranormal Activity all owing a debt to it.

Amelie director Jean-Pierre Jeunet fantasy black comedy is set in a post-apocalyptic France where a hard-up butcher lures in potential employees, only for them to end up as produce for his shop. The film is a surreal feast for the eyes, and also probably the only film the feature a group of underground rebel vegetarians as the heroes.

Trouble Every Day
Actor/ director/ musician/ all-round oddball Vincent Gallo stars in Claire Denis’ metaphorical ultra-violent tale of love, lust and cannibalism. Whilst Gallo and his French bride are honeymooning in Paris, he is overcome with a compulsion to sleep with them consume every girl in site. Many have discussed what it all means, but there is one thing everyone agrees on: the film is completely unforgettable.

Soylent Green
SPOILER ALERT! But to be far, the film is over 35 years old. This dystopian sci-fi thriller stars Charlton Heston stars as a police detective, who whilst investigating the murder of a wealthy businessman discovers the shocking secret behind the seemingly miraculous foodstuff Soylent Green. If you haven’t seen it, look away now: It’s made out of humans.

Cannibal! The Musical.
Cannibalism may not seem like the ideal subject for a all-singing, all-dancing musical, but South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone never were Rogers and Hammerstein. Based on the story of real life turn of the century prospector turned cannibal Alfred Packer, it was made whilst Parker was still in college. Needless to say it’s gleefully offensive and absolutely hilarious.

We Are What We Are
First time director Jorge Michel Grau’s film has been received many positive reviews on the festival circuit, and is being touted as doing for cannibals what Let The Right One In did for vampires. When a father collapses and dies in the street, his family must fend for themselves. Unfortunately this family have a particular need: human flesh. Both a sensitive family drama and a cracking horror film, see this completely unique gem before the inevitable Hollywood remake.

We Are What We Are (2010) is released on 12 November.