Directed by James Bushe
Starring Darren Sean Enwright, Richard Lee O’Donnell and Jenny Stokes
Indie Film Review by Seamus Conlon
In one act of technical imagination in an otherwise fairly retro horror film, Cannibals and Carpet Fitters opens by deceiving us into thinking we about to watch a ‘found-footage’ movie unfold before us. Gillian (Jessica-Jane Stafford) and Jack (Alex Zane) are a couple on a camping retreat to the countryside documenting their kooky antics with a video camera, until they get lost and hear some ominous rumblings in the bushes…When the found-footage phase of the film concludes in a gory spectacle, we then move into the vast and isolated mansion of Mrs Hanning (Jenny Stokes). This house emerges not as a port amidst the storm, but the root of the horrors, since Mrs Hanning’s brood of sub-rational, pre-verbal adult sons turn out to be the cannibalistic horde who consume those who wander too close to the jaws of the Hannings’ mansion.
The proceeding bulk of the film focuses on the clumsy misadventures of carpet fitters Colin (Darren Sean Enwright), Dean (Richard Lee O’Donnell) and Malcolm (Dominic Holmes) as they move towards their unfortunate appointment to fit carpets for the Hannings. There are genuine shocks along the way and many impressive grisly effects – ‘Cannibals and Carpet Fitters’ doesn’t have any of the technical deficiencies one might expect from and indie horror film when it comes to it’s ability to represent humans beings being sliced vertically down the middle by an axe. Also to the credit of writer Richard Lee O’Donnell (the writer as well as star of the film) is an admirable willingness not to bend to many of the usual plot formulae of horror films. Here we cannot trust that any heroine will be savoured as a ‘final girl’ to fend off the monsters to the end of the film, nor we can anticipate that only those who behave insensibly and recklessly will be moralistically penalised with death – the innocents are as likely prey as the callous.
Nevertheless, Cannibals and Carpet Fittters doesn’t score particularly high on originality. The slapstick horror-comedy fusion and story concerning a bunch of unheroic English everymen getting entangled in a flesh-eating nightmare clearly comes straight from ‘Shaun of the Dead’. The motif of wandering people stumbling into the den of inbred backwoods monsters has been a horror movie staple from Ed Gein-inspired flicks like ‘Psycho’ and ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ onwards. Sadly the film doesn’t film doesn’t possess any new ingredients of its own to elevate itself above being a pastiche, enjoyable a pastiche as it is. The film’s defining core seems to be the comic juxtaposition between its impossibly macabre plot elements and the characters’ cavalier sense that their hellish situation is an extension of their usual humdrum activities – at one point, hiding in a room from bloodthirsty cannibals, a character ironically says, ‘this is definitely the worst job we’ve been on’. Consequently the principle appeal of Cannibals and Carpet Fitters is that it offers its viewers more of the same humorous horror they’ve likely already seen before.