The Man Who Collected Food


Dir: Matthew Roth
Star: Mike N. Kelly, Gary Wagner, Lila Miller, Russell Fox

Miguel Appet (Kelly) does exactly what the title suggests. His house is filled with various styles, models and varieties of food - the highlight of his week is his trip to the supermarket [or 'food convention' as he calls it], to stock up on the new arrivals. And woe betide the employee who has to explain to Miguel why they don't have the exact product, down to the color of the packaging, shown in the advert. The side-effect is that Miguel is so obsessed with his collection, that he daren't open the packaging to eat anything, as it would no longer be "mint, in original condition." This poses a nutritional conundrum, which he solves by turning to the source of unpackaged protein readily available in his locale - if you're not there already, he resorts to cannibalism. But as the bodies pile up, he also has to deal with his nosey mother (Appet), and neighbours who (aside from the whole "eating people" thing) make Miguel look like model of stability. On one side is the man who things he is being harassed by aliens (Wagner); on the other, a redneck father and son who do nothing except hunt and drink beer. Can Miguel keep his lifestyle, sanity and collection intact?

It's the kind of film for which the word "quirky" was invented, populated by an eccentric collection of characters - the moral seems to be, if you obey society's rules on the outside, you can commit whatever heinous crimes you want without suspicion. It's an somewhat odd focus for the center of the film, not least because Miguel isn't particularly likeable; he's not pulling a Dexter, and only eating bad guys, and is spikily rude to those who cross his path, as the (somewhat too frequent) voiceovers make clear. This is clearly a satirical swipe at extreme consumerism rather than based in true reality; Miguel avoids police suspicion after taking out an entire support group, or even going into hospital, killing an orderly and chowing down on a patient who he has heard is "lucky" [of course, that's part of standard tribal cannibalism - eating the dead to take on their attributes]. Given this, the obvious plot-holes, such as why Miguel doesn't hunt animals rather than humans, can be forgiven. Tthe fact that he isn't a serial killer by nature - it's a seemingly-logical response to a problem caused by his obsession - might make him a unique cinematic creation, as a "psychopath by circumstance". For that alone, this is worth watching.

[The film was shown as part of the Phoenix Fear Film Festival.]

B-
[May 2011]


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