original title: La Sernana del Asesino
aka: The Apartment on the 13th Floor, The Week of the Killer
Director: Eloy de la Iglesia
Starring: Vicente Parra, Emma Cohen, Eusebio Poncela, Charly Bravo, Fernando Sanchez Polack
When the butcher goes berserk…
Marcos is a depressed young male who has a poor paying job at the local slaughterhouse and lives together with his older brother in a small house that are located right next to a new expensive apartment complex.
One evening while taking a cab back from a night out on town with his fiance, Marcos snaps and accidentally kills the cab driver. This opens up a very dark part of Marcos that will take more and more control over him, making the usually quiet little town unsafe for anyone who comes across him and especially unsafe for his close ones.
The Cannibal Man is a psychological study of a man who is driving himself into insanity by digging a hole he cannot get out of. Even though this title does suggest it, he does not eat his victims but someone else will get some unwanted pieces of meat on their dinner plate.
The opening shows some grim scenes from the slaughterhouse where Marcos works and it sets a very brutal tone for the film, although that tone is not really kept up for the rest of the film. The film doesn’t really rely on shocking images, so the opening feels a little weird and even unnecessary. The story is told in a very slow pace so we can see the full fall down of the Marcos character.
We get very familiar with Marcos and the way he works around others, which makes some scenes feel a little slow and even have hints of daily soap opera conversations. It is worth sticking with it though, since it does become very engaging during the last part and you can see that Marcos is a very layered character that the filmmakers tried to use as a social commentary. I do not know too much about the state of Spain at that time, so I’m not going to attempt to explain what they are trying to say, but it did become apparent to me that there is a comment on the growing gap between the rich and the poor and how it affects those who end up in the latter group in this.
There is some added weirdness to the film with the friendship Marcos developes with the openly gay character Nestor, who is one of those who live in the nice apartment complex right next to where Marcos lives. Their relationship is kind of weird, but also the most interesting relationship in the film. It hints that perhaps Marcos has some problems with his own sexuality, although it isn’t explored very much and only given as a possibility for the viewer to decide.
This film was both written and directed by Eloy de la Iglesia. He had done a few films before this and kept himself busy in the movie industry all the way up to his death in 2006. I have never seen or heard about any of his other films, but most of them are in the drama genre and that makes sense when you see how he constructed the scenes in this film. He gets a good performance out of Vicente Parra as Marcos. He becomes a sympathetic killer in this film, the viewer will feel for him even if he is responsible for these grizzly murders.
The Cannibal Man might not be for everybody, but I liked the story and thought it had layers to it and an interesting character in Marcos. It’s perhaps not what you would expect from a video nasty film with the word cannibal in the title, but it’s a film worth giving a chance.