When I found out cutie Rupert Evans of The Canal (blog here) was in British film Elfie Hopkins: Cannibal Hunter, I immediately checked out the trailer and liked what I saw.
After watching it, I liked what I saw, but didn’t see what I’d expected. The film’s original title, Elfie Hopkins, isn’t particularly tantalizing to a horror audience, but the later addition of “Cannibal Hunter” is pretty misleading and also gives away the whole “surprise” in the film. Not to mention, it immediately makes you think of campy monster action films like Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer or Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. That is so not the tone or style of Elfie Hopkins.
The movie’s plot is basically Fright Night with cannibals. A new family moves into the house next door to Elfie’s. People in town begin disappearing. Elfie becomes convinced her new neighbors are responsible.
Thing is, the majority of the film is simply about Elfie (played by Jaime Winstone of the awesome horror series Dead Set) and her platonic geek friend being a couple of slackers, still living at home and killing time “investigating” the neighbors. Aside from an occasional kill and some odd behavior by the new neighbors, not much goes on. Elfie is painfully unlikable; the “too cool” rebel act isn’t endearing at all. Even if the neighbors are cannibals, she’s such an overbearing, intrusive bitch I kind of wished she would have become dinner.
While the film is quirky, it’s not particularly humorous either. And the new family, consisting of a father, mother, son, and daughter, is an odd mix of horror clichés. The mother seems like a stuck up bitch with a sinister secret. The daughter is the child-like creep usually found in backwoods families. The son is a preppy arrogant ass. And the father is so charming, normal, and friendly he simply must be hiding something. In fact, Rupert Evans performance as the dad is the one factor that keeps you watching.
The real problem with the film is that all the little hint gathering about the family’s truth lasts for an hour! All the excitement, which should have extended across at least 45 minutes, is compressed into the last half hour. Elfie and her boyfriend find out the truth. The family reacts. Elfie has to save the day, which starts with a montage of her getting into “cannibal hunter” gear, to the strains of this awesome song:
And there begins the problem. This awesome song is barely heard because the montage is too short. As is everything that comes after it. What could be a tensely prolonged cat and mouse game with the family in Elfie’s house is over in a flash. She pretty much does a way with each of them easy breezy! WTF? We waited all this time for the thrilling battle and it’s over in a flash! And to top it all off, Elfie some totally extraneous character that was barely in the movie steps in and steals all Elfie’s glory. I fucking hate when horror movies do that.
It’s still worth a watch because it’s just so odd and Rupert Evans and the “Bag of Meat” song are both so awesome—not to mention, there are two songs by Charli XCX, who had a huge hit with “Boom Clap”–but I just wish the final horror would have been prolonged…and that I didn’t go into the movie knowing Elfie was going to become a cannibal hunter.