CFF 2024: CANNIBAL MUKBANG Seamlessly Melds Toxic Relationships and Extreme Horror

The film is screening virtually as part of the The Chattanooga Film Festival – running from June 21-28. Get more info here! 

With a title like Cannibal Mukbang, of course I’m going to bite. The directorial debut by Aimee Kuge is a frothy toxic relationship narrative through the lens of extreme horror. On a late night convenience store run, Mark (Nate Wise) has a serendipitous run in with the beautiful yet quirky redhead, Ash (April Consalo), a professional Muckbanger; essentially she eats food live on the internet for money. As the two spark up a courtship, Mark soon discovers that’s not her only her culinary passion. 

In her spare time Ash hunts down men who are rapists/murders/terrible people, luring them to their death, killing and then eating them. Completely under her spell Mark becomes Ash’s wingman and thanks to her slipping in some of her “special” meat, he also becomes completely dependent on human flesh as well. The film’s horror narrative encapsulates an intense codependent relationship, since both parties have troubles pasts, that uses the addiction to human flesh as a metaphor for substance abuse within this kind of toxic union. Mark soon quits his job and ghosts his family to simply live at Ash’s place waiting for their next score as the couple gets more and more ambitious. 

Given the title, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I was completely surprised at not only the performances here, but how well Kuge took a film that could have been simply a novelty based on the title and infused it with some real thematic and emotional weight. It also helps that there’s some real chemistry on screen between the leads who give the material depth and deliver real stakes with their relationship amid addiction. While an indie, the cinematography was impressive and really does some interesting things with its color palette, not just relying on red or blue 80s gels to get their creepiness across. Ambers and more muted hues help drive home the visuals that are colored to signify each character and motivations in a visually visceral presentation. 

Cannibal Mukang is a deliciously depraved helping of horror with a message. Aimee Kuge not only flaunts her understanding of the genre here, but her ability to create and elevate within a cannibal tale to tell a very grounded and emotionally stirring story. The film does this with a cheeky sense of humor and heaping piles of the red stuff coupled with some very effective practical effects. As far as debuts go Mukang is a gory blast from start to finish and a film that works on two very different wavelengths. In fact the more I think about it, the more its message slowly creeps out of the horror narrative, painting a bleak and chilling picture of addiction.

Previous post THELMA Gives 94-Year-Old June Squibb the Role of a Lifetime
Next post CFF 2024: SWEET RELIEF is What if Todd Solondz Made a Movie About 2020 in the 1990s