From the dark night of low-budget vampire flicks emerges the frightening Carnal. Two students, Eduardo and Patricio, decide to have a drink with two pretty girls they run into on the street. They know, and we know, they should be getting home to work on a paper that is due the next day. But these girls look like they’re game for some fun.
And indeed they are. After an ice-breaking game involving a toothpick and a ring, the girls get down to business. Because Patricio considers himself a ladies man, he’s a little miffed when the girl he’s making out with decides she’d rather sleep with Eduardo. It seems both the girls find Eduardo… consanguineous.
But we know from the opening where a man with memorable facial hair was slain, this concupiscience will be short lived. Indeed, that man’s dead body is hidden in the closet in the bedroom of Maria, the creepier, doll-collecting girl. Soon he will be joined by Eduardo, rendered catatonic by an injection of some paralyzing agent.
The creepiest part of Carnal to me is the sequence where the paralyzed Eduardo watches impotently these vampiresses go about the business of gorging on his friend, feeding a chained-up dog-man, and fighting like snarling cats over Eduardo’s own sweet meat. Later in the movie, Eduardo will regain the use of his limbs and attempt an escape. Whether he is successful or not, he will not be able to escape what he has seen.
Shot digitally and, remarkably claimed in the accompanying “Behind the Scenes” documentary included on the DVD, edited in camera (!), Carnal is a triumph of atmosphere. The entire movie is unrelentingly creepy and claustrophobic. The young, and apparently inexperienced, actors are extremely natural and convincing, lending the whole precedings the matter-of-fact terror of a nightmare come alive. (The performances on the English dubbing track are not so natural.) Low-budget horror fans who are also filmmakers will want to check out the “Behind the Scenes” documentary to learn how such an accomplished movie was shot in six days and lit, from the looks of it, almost all with practicals.
Director Fabián Forte, who reminds me of Guillermo del Toro in the way he speaks a mile a minute, says in his BTS interview that the movie is about obsession. Having Maria turn Eduardo into one of her muñecas, just another doll in her collection, is as chilling a metaphor as anything in Ann Rice’s books.
If you would like to see Carnal, pop on over to the podcast, where it is being released in installments. Unfortunately, it is not really structured in the multiple cliffhanger way that webisodes like to be. But if you’re willing to watch it in a single sitting, you may well find yourself pulling the covers extra tight, afraid of the nightmares that will descend when you fall asleep.