Documentary about Ill-Conceived Reality-TV Show Arrives on DVD
What do you think of the idea of a Survivor-style, reality-TV show where the players are starved and losers are not shipped off the island, but expected to fend for themselves in the jungle after being fed the suggestion that one of the contestants is going to be eaten before the series ends? This was the captivating premise of Darwinian American Cannibal, a short-lived program which had been successfully pitched to producers but canceled before it even made it onto the air.
Its Lord of the Flies meets The Most Dangerous Game plotline sounded like a “can’t miss” with today’s voyeuristic television viewers. But, unfortunately, one of the participants fell seriously ill during the filming last autumn, and had to be medevaced back to civilization, collapsing into a coma by the time the helicopter arrived at a hospital. Taping was immediately halted at that juncture, and the television show was cancelled.
Instead all we have left is American Cannibal, the movie, a documentary which is more of an aggravating tease than an informative journalistic enterprise, since it fails to answer any of the obvious questions. Were there really any cannibals on this remote island? And if so, were they the indigenous people, or were the contestants supposed to turn on each other out of sheer hunger?
Who was the woman who almost died? How exactly did she get hurt? Did someone try to devour her? How is she now? Is she suing? How had Darwinian American Cannibal been conducted? What were the challenges? What was going to be the Grand Prize? Who had been ahead when the show was abruptly halted? Etcetera… etcetera…
American Cannibal isn’t so much an examination of the tragic trajectory of an ill-fated reality-TV show but just the biggest hoax since The Blair Witch Project.
Poor (0 stars)
Running time: 91 minutes
Studio: Lifesize Entertainment
DVD Extras: Commentary by the directors, commentary by the writers, three interviews, a couple of featurettes, TV spots and a theatrical trailer.