In the Land of Cannibals

03/09/2019 15:20

Film: In the Land of Cannibals (Nella terra dei cannibali)

Year: 2004

Director: Bruno Mattei

Writer: Bruno Mattei and Giovanni Paolucci

Starring: Claudio Morales, Lou Randall and Cindy Jelic Matic



This was a film I’m not entirely sure how I got turned on to. My only guess was that after I watched Cannibal Holocaust and added its sequels to my Netflix list, I sought out a couple more cannibal films as well. I did find it interesting now that my knowledge of the genre is deeper to see that Bruno Mattei made this film under one of his many pseudonyms. The official synopsis is commandos head deep into the Amazon jungle to rescue a general’s daughter who has been kidnapped by a cannibal tribe.

To kick this one off, we see some natives eating something around a fire and from the title of the film; we know that they are eating people. We then shift to a group of soldiers as they land in Brazil. The leader of this unit is Lt. Wilson (Lou Randall). He meets with a military man from the country. They are informed they will be going into the jungle with the best guide to try to find the missing people, the most important one being Sara Armstrong.

As they journey in with Romero (Claudio Morales) and his assistant, he tells the commandos, which include Vasquez (Ydalia Suarez), Sgt. Cameron (Silvio Jimenez) and Kruger (Sanit Larrauri), they are told about the local customs and meet tribes of the Amazon. It isn’t safe and there are dangerous animals along the way. They could upon an old campsite where Romero believes they stayed at. The tribe that they are seeking out though, no one has ever seen. If they have, they’ve never been able to tell the tale.

I am keeping my recap rather short for this film, because to be honest, there isn’t much depth to the story. I really don’t mind that fact actually. I didn’t realize the man was a general, but I knew he was in the government. I did find it funny that the film is from Italy and pretty sure most of all the actors are as well, pretending to be from the United States. It makes sense to have them be from there, because we are really the only country that would send in soldiers like this film to rescue someone.

There was a much bigger issue I had with this film though. It really does feel like a combination of Cannibal Holocaust and Predator. I will admit that I probably wouldn’t have thought of the latter if I had not seen the title of a review as I was turning this film on that stated this. This film does have aspects of both films though. Examples are we see a pig being slaughtered on screen and some of the plot points to keep these characters going along their path from Cannibal Holocaust. Predator has these commandos just destroying this village to save the person they are going for.

Stemming from this is that the film is boring. I have come to understand from the cannibal films I’ve seen they normally need to be pretty graphic in nature to what we see or they have to have a deeper allegorical meaning for what we seeing in order for them to be good. This film really doesn’t do either, which is an issue. I think part of this hurts the film that it comes out in the early to mid 2000s when the genre was really created 30 years prior. What we see is tame and it doesn’t bring the emotional value. I think the pacing is off because I never connect with the characters and the stakes aren’t really there. The ending I thought was fine, but because of how I’m feeling, it doesn’t carry the weight.

There is an issue of realism of where they are. Now for me, I saw as the film was starting this was filmed in Philippines. I really started to look at the natives used and they look Asian, not South American. I’m sure that it was cheaper or safer or something to film there, but that is something that is a bit of an issue. The natives in these countries do not look the same.

This brings me to the acting. The acting was subpar as well. Morales I thought was fitting for his role, but I think it is a weird move to have them almost treating this like a documentary film where he is just narrating the facts of the jungle and the tribes they encounter. Randall was meh. It is funny that he’s supposed to be from Indiana and a West Point graduate from what I think the film said. He wouldn’t be going into the jungle for this mission if that was true. Cindy Jelic Matic as Sara Armstrong was introduced so late in the film and never really gets development. We do see her pretty much naked which seems to be the only reason she is here. The rest of the commandos are also quite generic. The only ones I’ll give credit to are the tribes of natives we have. They seemed pretty primate in how they acted.

Next I’ll go to the effects of the film. This is really where the biggest disappointment was for me. The effects that we get are really good. We see some really great dead bodies and I’ll even give leeway to seeing the natives eating some corpses. The problem I have though, there are deaths where they are off-screen. I think for a film like this we have to see it. I’m betting they couldn’t make the ones they didn’t show look real, so they decided to show it. I am normally for this, but the problem being is that this film needed to be more graphic to carry it as it is lacking in so many categories.

I normally don’t notice the score of films too much, but this one was bad. I noticed from the beginning that it is generic and they decided to go with faux patriotic music. I get that they these commandos are from the United States, but I think a different score should have been used. I sat there laughing at it for how bad it was coming off to me.

Now with that said, this film wasn’t good. I will admit that I’m not the expert on cannibal films, but this one was lacking a lot. As stated earlier, I believe that these films to be really good need to have a deeper meaning behind them or need to go graphic. This film was lacking in story and even though it had good effects, it hid most of them. The pacing was off and the film comes off boring. The acting was subpar and the score was as well. I’d have to say I wouldn’t recommend this one unless you want a film that can give you a good laugh.


My Rating: 3 out of 10