‘Gannibal’ is a new horror series from Japan about cannibalism in a rural Japanese village produced by Hulu and that I could find on Disney+ internationally and in Spain, but despite its country of origin it is quite reminiscent of the brilliant South Korean film ‘The Stranger’ (The Wailing, 2016). It premiered on the platform on December 28, 2022, but it has barely given rise to conversation, and it is a pity.
Most of the seven episodes in the series were released already in 2023 and this makes it, without a doubt, in the best horror series of the year so far, despite the fact that practically no one seems to have seen it, and it is very difficult to find reviews about it on the net. Not a single one has been recorded on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s not even registered on metacritic and in letterboxd or imdb it barely has 500-800 votes. Being a Hulu co-production, with a good budget, it does not stop seeming paradoxical.
‘Gannibal’ is a live action adaptation of a popular manga of the same name, which has a script and drawing by Masaaki Ninomiy in its 13 volumes and which in Spain has been published by Acheri. It has been brought to the screen by Takamasa Oe as a screenwriter and is directed by Shinzô Katayama, who previously directed the great horror thriller ‘Missing’ (2021), which has nothing to do with the film of the same name currently in theaters, and has applied here his dark and rough style, more in the line of Korean cinema of the 2000s than Japanese, perhaps because he was protected in that industry.
the main plot, As the title suggests, it revolves around cannibalism, set here in a rural Japanese town.. After causing a major incident in the big city, police officer Daigo Agawa takes his wife Yuki and daughter Mashiro to live in the remote mountain town of Kuge, a place that seems perfect for the family to recover from the ordeal, despite the mysterious disappearance of the previous officer stationed there. The town thrives on forestry, and the residents make their living from cypress timber.
In charge of all this company is the Goto family, owner of most of the town. One day, the body of an old woman is found on the mountain, and while the Goto say that she was attacked by a bear, Daigo notices a human bite mark on her arm and begins to suspect that something is wrong in the village. The thing has the fat letters when We are noticing that anyone who tries to investigate the family tends to disappearwe enter familiar, but no less chilling, rural horror terrain.
Daigo will try to solve the case of his missing predecessor, uncovering the horrible truth about the town. Obviously the mystery is not something that will make us bite our nails, but the key is that the story is driven by the characters, starting with a protagonist who goes beyond the usual gray lines with violent behavior that is far from heroic. ‘Gannibal’ is capable of conjuring the best of Japanese terror, combined with a hyper-violent police thriller in the vein of ‘I found the devil’ (2010).
There are a number of nemeses that are never hidden from us and the most macabre criminal genre ends up drifting even with the neowestern, with clans and families facing each other within a sinister atmosphere. To some extent there are elements of American action movies like ‘living meat‘ (Prime Cut, 1972), but with elements that pass into the realm of fantasy, with more in common with ‘Butcher Block’, the memorable season 3 of ‘Channel Zero’, although it remains more within a more realistic terrain.
A creepy and dark closing
‘Gannibal’ offers nothing that we don’t find in other cannibal conspiracy movies like ‘shock treatment‘(1973),’The perfume of the signora in black‘(1974),’the night of death‘ (1980), or especially, despite the fact that the title might suggest otherwise, ‘Cole, cole, what do you eat?‘ (1980), but here he gives the whole an ancestral element with folk horror roots, which separates it from the anthropological element that popularized, for example, the Italian exploitation cinema of the 70s and 80s.
Directed as if it were cinema for the big screen, during its patient descent into the spiral, with mysteries in different time lines that circulate around the tradition that originates the consumption of meat, there is time for espectacular action scenes, which give way to a more suffocating tonedelving more and more into familiar terrain for fans of ‘The Wicker Man’ (1973) in a current environment, without being cut off by blood and violence.
‘Gannibal’ may seem like a classic police series, but its unapologetically dark nature falls into the realms of filmmakers like Kiyoshi Kurosawa, with dark rituals and a nightmarish climax that makes no concessions or compromises until its very post-credits scene. Coherent until its end, which can be interpreted, it offers an unusual bitter taste in a format in different chapters to close a series that is postulated as one of the great sleepers of dark television never come out under a brand like Disney.