A few nights ago I viewed the uncut version of the infamous Cannibal Holocaust. While the film is indeed as horrific as everyone says it is, its script could do with a few adjustments.
For those who don’t know Cannibal Holocaust is about a group of young filmmakers who disappear in the Amazon jungle while shooting a documentary.
A university professor finds their film cans and brings them back to America. A television network wants to broadcast the footage but after watching it the professor urges the network not to.
Most of the film is shot like a traditional narrative showing the professor going to the amazon, finding the footage and arguing with the TV executives.
That is until forty minutes in when we see the footage.
Cannibal Holocaust is technically the first found footage film so it deserves some credit for that. It did create a sub-genre after all.
The make-up and gore effects are a little mixed. Without getting into spoilers the blood and flesh is pretty convincing however some of the ‘dismemberments’ don’t look as realistic.
The soundtrack by Riz Ortolani is great. It creates an intense, ambient and melancholic soundscape that will stick with you.
The elements of Cannibal Holocaust that need improving are the characters and plot.
The professor has no weaknesses, desires or values. In most good stories the protagonist’s weaknesses, desires and values are challenged and how he or she deals with that is what drives the action of the story.
Since the professor isn’t shown to have any of these qualities its difficult to empathize with him on his journey.
Some critics have praised Cannibal Holocaust for being a social commentary about how civilized people are more brutal and vicious than primitive people. I think this theme could’ve been conveyed better.
The documentary crew suddenly turn violent and start burning the tribe’s village with little explanation. I know the crew are supposed to represent civilization but I think this is a very rushed and two dimensional representation.
Its quite unfortunate that a good soundtrack, a unique format, a decent message and the lives of animals were sacrificed for such an underdeveloped script.
I recommend watching Cannibal Holocaust if you want to see something powerful and memorable but not something solid or thoughtful.
In conclusion Cannibal Holocaust earns a shallow but strong 4 out of 10.