Carnal (2003) / Horror-Thriller
aka Mala Carne

MPAA Rated: Not rated, but would be R for nudity, sexuality, violence, gore, and language
Running Time: 81 min.

Cast: Federico Benzenzette, Guido Krolevetski, Mara Said, Alexia Zamparo, Nathan Solans
Director: Fabian Forte
Screenplay: Fabian Forte
Review published March 24, 2007

In Argentina, Eduardo (Bezenzette) and Patricio (Krolevetski) are friends out on the town, looking to score some grub.  They change their ideas of what to score for when they pick up a couple of women, Maria (Said) and Marcel (Zamparo), who offer them dinner up at their place, and perhaps a bit more.  As the evening progresses, the quartet gets better acquainted, with lots of sex and passion on the agenda.  Unfortunately for the boys, the girls have something more in mind, as they begin to suspect these aren't just any women -- they are vampires.

Writer-director Fabian Forte films this low-budget feature using mostly first-time actors, limited locations, and editing done on the camera itself, shot in sequence in under a week.  Given the filmmaking techniques Forte employs, it's to his credit that the film succeeds in being entertaining enough for lovers of atmospheric horror.  Those who normally eschew such fare will find it lacking in story and plot, but with enough weird turns of events and a certain sexiness, it will probably keep the interest of most viewers throughout. 

Forte's style is claustrophobic, keeping the camera close to the actors and all of the action, giving the effect that there are few, if any, means of escape for the young men at the heart of the film.  Although there are a few scenes of blood and mild carnage, the gore is never gratuitous, although one particular scene involving organ removal is definitely not for squeamish viewers.  In the horror genre, I'd describe the style as more macabre than horrific.

Carnal provides modest titillation and a certain creepiness that showcases the talent of Forte, even if the film itself is too slight and insubstantial to merit going out of your way for if you aren't a schlock horror fanatic.  One can easily envision this being a pretty good film with more time, money, and standard editing techniques, and Forte deserves a great deal of credit for making a legitimately interesting film given the severely difficult task of editing on camera. Good casting of mostly unknown thespians works to his benefit as well. 

It's easily one of the better zero-dollar horror films out there -- in fact, considering how terrible mainstream Hollywood horror releases have been of late, it's probably not a stretch to say that it's better than most of those too.  I don't generally get much enjoyment out of horror films, especially if they are quickly made on a shoestring budget, but if that's your box of candy, Carnal merits a sampling.

Qwipster's rating:

2007 Vince Leo