REVIEW: (Escape from) Cannibal Farm
– By Dave Cliffe
If you go down to the countryside you are sure for a twisted surprise. Just as they thought they were having a well-deserved family holiday, the Harpers head to the British countryside for a camping trip. Unfortunately, their fate comes into the hands of a sadistic group of troubled misfits that reside on a farm near by where the Harper family is staying.
Written, produced and directed by Charlie Steeds, Escape from Cannibal Farm is an extremely low-budget British horror thriller that unfortunately, ahem, bites off more than it can chew. As a horror fan and a champion of British film, I always look forward to a British horror, especially as they are not as prominent as our counterparts across the pond. However, with that said, there is no excuse for extremely derivative, poorly-written and unimaginative direction.
The film begins with what looks like a TV-shot episode; televisual cinematography and a script that embodies typical comedic tones of conflicting family members on a trip. Paradoxically, although the start of the film feels rather contrived it is somewhat at its best at this stage of the film as even though it is not original in story set-up, it is coherent and at times a little funny. But even at the get-go, characters are a little two-dimensional; they underpin the sense that it looks like a TV show production along with the script bearing no real sense of authenticity.
With the simple set-up of the Harpers going on holiday in place, it is only a matter of time before things start to go south. It is also at this point where it is not only the Harper family that suffers but also the audience too, as the cracks of the budget and film-design are soon apparent. The main culprit for this is that it bears no originality, quality or senses of cohesion and coherence; the linking between the narrative set-up and the outcome of the main story thread is ridiculous. The editing is so unpolished and unstructured that it detracts your ability to immerse in proceedings; moreover, the acting and production quality is extremely poor. If a filmmaker is low on cash, this does not mean creativity should be completely overlooked; limitations of budget should aim to inspire a greater sense of creative output within the restraining context of which you are given.
Another key issue with the screenplay is that it seems to be juggling too many story threads; the terrorizing of the family, the feuding backstory between the main instigator of events and another local character, along with the inclusion of a dark underground trading business. And they sadly do not come to any satisfying resolution; it all seems very rushed and perplexing. Along with the shoddy story design, execution and direction, it is all a slightly convoluted mess. Focusing on one line of narrative, with the aim of quality versus quantity, may have been a wiser approach.
It is a shame that Escape from Cannibal Farm is not a success, even from the perspective of it is so B-movie bad, it is good. It is simply a poorly-made film that on the cover of things could have been a cult British horror film. Unfortunately, much like the Harper family, you will not want to visit Cannibal Farm any time soon.