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2/28/08

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It doesn't seem that long ago that Reality Television was a novel concept. Now it is a fact of life. It isn't going anywhere, it's cheap to produce, the ratings continue to remain high, and there is a never ending supply of people desperate for a taste of fame, no matter what the cost or the amount of humiliation they have to endure. That's the idea behind, American Cannibal; just how far are people willing to go, will they eat human flesh? And who are the people willing to create it?


Gil Ripley and Dave Roberts are a pair of TV writers, who've had a little success, but have yet to hit it big. They don't want to demean themselves with reality television, they think it's below them, but since nothing else seems to be working, and their manager has suggested it may be a way to get their name out there, they're willing to try anything. They've got a couple of pretty far out there ideas; like Virgin Territory a show full of virgins, who are put to the test with a constant barrage of sexual imagery, and whoever can go the longest without masturbating, gets to lose their virginity to a porn star. They're selling their ideas to anyone that'll listen. Eventually they work their way down to porn producer Kevin Blatt, who is most famous for promoting the Paris Hilton sex tape; he's hoping to go mainstream with a reality TV show, and surprisingly doesn't bite on the virgin show (I guess he has in the meantime), instead goes for something Gil and Dave kind of make up on the spot.


It's a show called The Ultimate, Ultimate Challenge, terrible name, lame idea; but he's willing to put the money up to produce it. The concept of the show is to starve people, while they live on an island where cannibalism is still legal, and also compete in Survivor type challenges. Watching the casting process for this show is amazing, it is pathetic to watch people grovel, just for the chance at this no-name show. Once the cameras are rolling on the real contestants, it's interesting to see how manipulated these type of shows really are. Something horrible happens while the show is shooting, they it a mystery as to what happened before and after, with no real conclusion as to what actually went down. I'm not sure if the whole thing was manipulated by the filmmakers, or if they're being vague on for entertainment purposes.

There's a lot of talk on the IMDb boards about this whole film being a mockumentary. Which I don't totally buy, but also has me questioning the reality of this film. None of these people are professional actors and quite a few of them are known real people, such as reality TV director Neil DeGroot, host George Gray and producer Kevin Blatt, who are all in on the joke or not. So either they got amazing real-life performances out of amateur actors, which I've never seen accomplished, most mockumentaries are obvious within the first few minutes; and the filmmakers kept the lie up for over two years now; or most of the film is the real deal, with a touch of manipulation. Either way it's a searing look at reality television; in the end you feel the worst for the creators of the show for selling their souls for something so hokey, just so they could get a taste of the entertainment biz. - Grade: C+

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I just found this great review, that explains what's going on with the reality of this film, much better than I could.



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