The gore scenes of Carnifex are redder than an unsupervised kindergartener left beside an open bucket of red paint. The liberal use of blood and prosthetics are comically effective at portraying the hyper violent and creative killings of this infamous Dutch serial killer. Despite the label of horror comedy, this movie should not be mistaken as being for the light hearted. One of the first scenes begins with two men splashing each other with urine in a public restroom and ends with (spoiler alert) genital mutilation. With the tone of the movie established, the following scenes do not hold back on their delivery of dick jokes.
Shot in and around the town of Heemskerk in the Netherlands, Carnifex is a Dutch film that offers English subtitles. The plot follows a group of friends as they are hunted by a local serial killer. One of friends, Bram, tries to contact the police but discovers they won't be of any help. In an effort to save himself and his friends, he decides to investigate and find the killer on his own. The resulting story comes complete with drug trips, slasher rips and bi-curious bikini clad women.
Carnifex is a slasher flick that does not take itself too seriously. There is a unique brand of comic relief that is peppered throughout the narrative which ranges from lewd humor to insane non-sequiturs. Hidden within this film is perhaps the best worst caricature of the Mexican people ever recorded. Extreme creative liberties were taken when they decided to cast a Mexican character as a man wearing a wig shouting Scarface-esque English and forcing burritos onto his new house guest. The outlandishness of the humour may turn some people off, but it's hard to ignore the element of surprise that the nonsense adds to the story. Every aspect of this movie leaves you wondering about what you just witnessed, from basic character interactions to the grimace-inducing murders.
Although, skilled cinematography compensated for the lack of a disciplined plot. The establishment of ambiance through set design, music and lighting was very professional. The film's effective use of colour created a distinction between the stoney adventures of Bram as he searches for clues and the suspenseful scenes of his friends being hunted. The blond hair and pale eyes of Bram (Richard de Maaré) played well into the muted blue and yellow colour scheme that follows his story. The colours of these scenes often evoke feelings of monotony, melancholy, and bureaucracy much like how the colour of a manila file folder would. Ultimately, these colours mirror Bram's fruitless struggle for answers. In contrast, the red and green colour scheme was naturally a favorite of the slayings thanks to the excess amount of blood and gore. However, the rollerblading scene (seen below) stood out as being simultaneously aesthetically pleasing and creepily ominous.
The plot ended up being a little half baked and mostly served as a segue between murders. The little character development of the victims made it difficult to distinguish who was getting slashed and how they fit into the story. It also took a while for the film to decide on a leading character. The character most heavily involved in the plot only had a small speaking role when first introduced. His transition from a secondary character to main character felt disorienting. However, most of the plot holes and missteps can be forgiven as Carnifex was intended to be a fun, insane and gory experience. If you try not to analyze it too much, this film has adequately hit its mark.
Overall, I would recommend this movie to people who enjoy the charm of independent films and who also want to see a lot of people get chopped up.
This review is dedicated to Sanahan, an avid fan of the horror comedy genre, happy birthday.