Miquel Appet loves food. He loves food so much that he obsesses over it to the point that he collects food. Not for the purpose of stocking up on rations or so he can have a variety of food to choose from, but he collects food as a hobby. While most other people collect sports memorabilia, Miguel collects food and drinks and all their variations. The problem is that he wants to keep his collection in mint condition which means he has to keep his food sealed. So where does that leave a man who needs to eat but refuses to eat normal food for the sake of collecting?
In the cannibal subgenre we have seen a number of reasons for cannibalism: everything from jungle natives to the psychological affects of war. The of course, there are more than a few movies about crazy redneck hillbillies with cannibalistic tendencies but we are never told why -- they'll eat you simply because they can. Much to my surprise I ended up watching a movie at a film festival that took the cannibal plotline and did something unexpected with it.
"The Man Who Collected Food" is about Miguel Appet and his insatiable desire to...Collect. Food. Most other people collect baseball cards or stamps but that's not good enough for Miguel because he loves food, he always has. His passion for food created an obsession to own food and drinks from various years, design variations, color variations, misprints, recalled items, out of print items, etc. As every good collector knows, in order to keep your collection at it’s most pristine you cannot open anything. So where does that leave a man who collects food? Cannibalism, of course. It doesn't matter where he is or what it is Miguel can't bring himself to eat regular food, so he abducts people and uses them for his meal source.
Definitely I high point for "The Man Who Collected Food" is the concept because to me, it's one of those concepts that seems kind of obvious but at the same time I never would have or could have thought of it myself. The other thing is that it was, in general, an unexpected movie to see: I saw it at the Fear Fête Horror Film Festival and I knew nothing about -- I was just hoping it wasn't going to suck. Though, that's because I can't help but be pessimistic with just about everything that I watch. The great thing is that it wasn't a bad movie, at all, and because I went into the movie devoid of any preconceived notions. I was able to sit back and enjoy what the movie had to offer: some great comedic moments tied together with an interesting spin on the cannibal subgenre.
The fact that the movie is about a guy who takes up cannibalism in order to keep his food collection in mint condition should be a dead give away that this is going to be a comedic movie. Part black-comedy and part absurdism, "The Man Who Collected Food" takes a page out of the John Waters book and has the movie basically take place in its own world. It doesn't necessarily operate in the realm of reality and everywhere Miguel turns he seems to be confronted by another eccentric character that populates his world. Especially his neighbor, Kelvin Green, who spends his time trying to catch, as he would put it, those goddamn sneaky aliens. (He also spends the movie covered in green blotches that he claims to be alien blood.) There are a number of other strange characters including a father and son hunting team who hope to hunt people one day, a group therapist who doesn't seem all that shocked about what Miguel is doing, and even Miguel's mother herself is an odd duck. And because the movie operates on an entirely different plane of existence, the characters aren't relatable and you don't really care for anyone's plight outside of Miguel and possibly Kelvin (cause you kind of feel bad for Kevin). Everything, the story and the characters, are all here for entertainment.
Yes, that dirty word that pretentious elitist online "critics" hate. Entertainment. The movie isn't senseless or even stupid, it's a clever story with some colorful characters, but it's another movie that doesn't want to do anything but entertain. Why doesn't anyone notice Miguel bringing people into his house that he keeps in a freezer? Don't know. Don't care. I just want to see Miguel cut off some poor Asian woman's foot, suck on her bloody severed toes, and then feed her one as well and wouldn't you know it...So the movie does an excellent job of being entertaining and it also does an excellent job of being some serious eye candy too. Even though it's a low-budget indie affair, "The Man Who Collected Food" is actually shot on film and you can immediately tell the difference. It's also a big relief considering how many movies I watch on a regular basis that are simply hand held and shot on DV or HD. The movie looks amazing in all its grainy film glory and there was such an attention to the cinematography that it was refreshing to watch for that reason alone. It also pays off for one of the movie's money shots where it has Miguel slaughter a room full of people entirely in slow motion and all to the sound of fiddles and violins. Say what you will about this movie but that scene alone felt like it was worth the price of admission.
The movie has a lot of bright spots in it: tone, humor, cinematography, the gore - even though it's sparse, and Mike N. Kelly as the lead character did a fantastic job as well. While reminding me of a thinner and friendlier version of Larry Drake, Mike had the charm and the charisma for the type of character that Miguel is. But as fun as the movie was and all the shining moments aside the movie did have some faults, like the pacing felt a bit erratic at times and some moments just seemed to drag. Nothing that will ruin the movie, I don't think, but there were still moments where you were clock watching or just waiting for them to get on with it and move to the next scene. Not the best thing to have happen when you're movie runs just below eighty minutes.
In general, all good and bad things considered, I thoroughly enjoyed "The Man Who Collected Food". Did I like it more than I normally would have because I knew nothing about it and as a result didn't have any expectations of any kind, beyond my usual pessimism? Probably. Even so, credit needs to given where credit is due and "The Man Who Collected Food" is an entertaining and clever take on the cannibal subgenre. It's more comedy than horror but it’s a simple and enjoyable to the point that it's one of those movies that you decompress to. Rent. Buy. Whatever. Just sit back, have a few laughs with it, and appreciate the movie for what it is.