Love is messy. Couples argue. Hard times bring out the worst in us. Sometimes your lover becomes obsessed with raw meat and can’t stop eating it…

THE CARNIVORES is a visceral film and a totally warped reflection on making it through the hard times. It’s impactful and voyeuristic. The stuff that great midnight movies are made of.

In THE CARNIVORES, cracks in the façade of a happy relationship begin to deepen and mania flows in. Alice and Bret are a longtime couple, but their relationship is challenged when Harvie, Bret’s dog, gets sick and is dying. Bret is taking the news hard and is consumed with the care of her dog that she has had for many years. Alice suddenly finds herself on the outside of the relationship looking in, with an insatiable craving for intimacy… and raw meat.

THE CARNIVORES stars Lindsay Burdge and Tallie Medel and is directed by Caleb Michael Johnson. Originally, the film had been an anticipated selection for SXSW 2020 and was one of the many great projects upended by the festival’s last-minute cancellation. The film was set to have its world premiere on Saturday, March 14.

When it comes to love stories, THE CARNIVORES is as twisted as you could possibly imagine. The film takes the common struggles of couples and contorts them to the extreme, injecting increasingly bleak circumstances into a tense situation. There’s something about it that feels very real, despite the bizarre particulars of the plot. 

To summarize the feeling of THE CARNIVORES into a single word would be to call the film a “craving.” Cravings for intimacy, both physical and emotional. Cravings for stability and trust. Cravings for flesh… the sexy kind and the very raw, knuckles deep in a package of ground beef sort of way. The funny thing about cravings is that they are equal parts a need and a vice. When we crave we lose reason, we feel intensely. It’s a sophisticated take on romance and THE CARNIVORES pulls it off beautifully. 

The narrative and pacing of the film meanders slightly. At times it feels like a fever dream, sometimes it feels like sleepwalking. Significant events blip in and out with the feeling of being out of place. It’s deeply uncomfortable to watch… and it works. Pairing the blurred narrative with the truly visceral imagery of raw meat gives the entire murky film a sense of urgency.  

Burdge and Medel deliver heartbreaking, disconcerting, and impactful performances, respectively. For such a limited cast, they both do an incredible job pulling the audience in. The situation of the film is unusual and a little outside the realm of reality, but their performances ground it in reality. Really fantastic work.

During this moment of festival cancellations and uncertainty, independent film is more important than ever. We have a greater need for unique and innovative stories that challenge us, transport us, and make their mark. THE CARNIVORES is exactly that film. 

THE CARNIVORES will enjoy a DIY-style world premiere in Austin, TX on Saturday, March 14th.

Caitlin Kennedy
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