Available for streaming on iTunes Movies, I had pretty low expectations when I rented Cannibal Farm (2017) to review. Both the film’s title and its cover art suggested this would be a derivative re-hash of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Written and directed by Charlie Steeds, Cannibal Farm amazes by somehow being even worse than expected. This isn’t just a bad film, it’s a ludicrously bad film. Each subsequent scene seems to dare the audience to keep watching to see how much worse it can get.
Looking to get away from the city for the weekend, the dysfunctional Carver family heads into the countryside for a camping trip. It’s actually somewhat impressive how many worn-out horror film tropes Steeds is able to cram into the first ten minutes of the film alone . In just one short family trailer ride Steeds provides a convoluted rationale for the absence of cellphones, gets his family lost, introduces the “creepy old stranger at the side of the road” who offers the standard warning, and ensures that you will thoroughly dislike every character. Steeds does not just shamelessly rip off The Texas Chainsaw Massacre; astute horror fans will recognize bits lifted from The Hills Have Eyes, Frontier(s), and The Descent. In fact the only thing original about Cannibal Farm is how Steeds stitches these different films into an almost inexplicable plot.
There are so many things wrong with Cannibal Farm but for the sake of brevity I’ll focus on some of the highlights. While the acting is terrible I’m not certain even an Oscar-calibre cast could do much with the stilted dialogue they’re forced to recite. At one point a character offers expository dialogue over a flashback that is so lazy that I found myself laughing out loud. One night time scene somehow instantly turns to broad daylight. Some of the death scenes are directly lifted from better films, though with poor special effects. An electric fence causes the victim’s hands to explode in one hilariously inept scene. To pad out the film’s runtime Cannibal Farm treats the audience to random flashbacks that would seem pointless if not for a completely unnecessary plot twist. Characters randomly pop up in the film; I found myself wondering if I had blacked out periodically watching as a defence mechanism.
The most (and only) frightening part of Cannibal Farm – it goes on for an hour and 40 minutes. The final third of the film descends into the kind of lunacy that only really bad films can achieve. After finishing it, I double-checked to make sure I hadn’t accidentally rented a comedy; sadly, the humour was unintentional.