An epicurean cannibal comedy after the manner of Eating Raoul or K-Shop, this has a dry, wry, callous, distinctively French sense of humour. It follows a familiar plotline – a possible ur-text of stories like this is A Bucket of Blood – but has fresh, unusual characterisation and takes pot-shots at new-ish targets.
The Pascals – Sophie (Marina Foïs) and Vincent (writer-director Fabrice Eboué) – are in a rut, with a failing marriage and a struggling butcher shop. Sophie watches documentaries about serial killers in bed while Vincent crashes on the couch with their always-hungry dog. Vincent takes pride in selling naturally-sourced, high-quality meat while their friends Marc (Jean-François Cayrey) and Stéphanie (Virginia Hocq) enjoy a luxury lifestyle thanks to a chain of processed meat stores and insist on price-tagging every conversation. A band of masked vegan activists trash the shop – and Vincent later impulsively runs over one of the gang. Sophie suggests body disposal methods borrowed from famous French murderers, but Vincent chops the kid up, intending to throw the bits out with the expired meat … only some slivers of tasty ham get out on the market and he has to come up with a story to explain this flavourful new product (‘Iranian pork’). When the supply runs out, the butchers take – with increasing glee – to hunting vegans, and the shop goes from strength to strength.
Eboué’s script is deadpan hilarious about a lot of tricky subjects – including racism, animal cruelty, smug activists, serial killer fandoms, menopause and the dog’s fondness for cut-off vegan penises – but directs with taste and tact even in the gorier, more outrageous stretches. Like many stories on this pattern, it has trouble with the landing – there’s a funny/gruesome encounter with an animal rights gang who seem as murderous as the cannibals, then a couple of quick, clever payoffs that still don’t quite feel like an ending.
It’s anchored by the lead performances – the arc from hapless to heartless is funny, but Foïs especially plays it with real feeling and Eboué (like Paul Bartel in Eating Raoul) lets his co-star have a showcase. It’s also perfectly cast when it comes to assembling obnoxious types who are just begging to be eaten – Victor Meutelet is hilarious as the strident vegan boyfriend of the Pascals’ daughter (Lisa Do Couto Texeira) who has microaggressions down to an art form – though even this killer couple retain enough heart to have some awareness of the dark places where they’re trespassing and express a few regrets over their more innocent victims.