The Young Cannibals (2019)

The toothy critter
Toothy critter!

In a pre-title sequence two desperate men are shown eating part of a dead colleague on a snow-covered mountain. A third man refuses to take part in this. When the three men walk onwards, the two who had eaten the flesh start acting scared, as if they can see something up ahead. The man who’d not succumbed to cannibalism can’t see what is pursuing the others. This unseen force lifts up one of the flesh eaters, throws him to the snowy ground and bloodily rips into him.

Only those who've eaten human flesh can see the creature...
Only those who’ve eaten human flesh can see the creature…
A victim is attacked
…and it hunts them down and kills them

The movie now switches location to the UK and we watch Ethan (Benjamin Sarpong-Broni) devising a way to get his girlfriend Nat (Megan Purvis) out of the mental health facility she is currently staying in. The couple have planned this escape so that Nat can celebrate her birthday with a bunch of friends on a weekend camping trip.

poster

The land they are camping on is owned by Blackwood (David Patrick Stucky), who we recognise as the surviving flesh eater from the opening sequence. Blackwood generously offers the campers a container of raw hamburger patties. The friends enjoy this free meal, unaware that the burger patties contain human flesh…

Don’t eat the burgers!

Blackwood reappears and tells the group what they’ve eaten – and he explains that the local woodland is inhabited by a creature that hunts and kills anyone who has consumed human flesh. Blackwood’s plan is to use the friends as offerings, hoping that the monster (that has presumably stalked him from the mountains) will gorge on them and will leave him alone for a while.

The creature looms over a victim
The creature looms over a victim
fang-faced monster
Fang-face!

The friends must now try to keep out of the creature’s clutches, and this really should’ve provided the film with lots of opportunities to give us tension and action, but there’s a fair bit of running time where not much happens and we get characters having “you weren’t there to help”-type drama moments instead.

Brother and sister have a 'you-weren't-there-for-me' moment
Brother and sister have a ‘you-weren’t-there-for-me’ moment

The movie inevitably ends with a final girl confronting Blackwood and dealing with the pursuing creature.

Nat covers herself in another victim's blood
Nat covers herself in another victim’s blood

This low budget movie looks okay visually, has practical effects and features a decent synth score by Gabe Castro, so it’s a shame a lot of the film is basically a bunch of rather one-note characters walking and running about in the woods.

Nat ignites a signal flare

What I liked most about the movie was the central idea, which is pretty cool: if you eat human flesh you will be hunted down and killed by a creature that ONLY cannibals can see (non-cannibals can only see the victims being attacked, with the creature remaining invisible to them).

The suggestion that the creature can’t see you if you cover yourself with a dead person’s blood doesn’t seem well thought-through, however. Surely most cannibals get covered in a dead person’s blood (because they’re eating a corpse), so this must be a real problem for a creature that only hunts down cannibals!

The guy with the rifle can't see the monster holding up Ethan because he hasn't munched on human flesh
The guy with the rifle can’t see the monster holding up Ethan because he hasn’t munched on human flesh
The creature gets up close and personal
The creature gets up close and personal

This monster is a humanoid creature with a big, tooth-filled mouth, but it is never seen as clearly as depicted in the film’s poster: it is always shot cloaked in shadows, filmed from a distance, or shown in extreme close-up.

The poster showed the beastie far more clearly
The poster showed the beastie far more clearly

In the end the movie just fails to be very memorable, which is a pity, as it had potential.

It's looking out the window!
It’s looking out the window!

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