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SXSW (At Home): 'The Carnivores' Review

Movie Reviews

SXSW (At Home): ‘The Carnivores’ Review

Great storytelling in a movie about two girls and one pup.

AIPT will continue some of its planned coverage of SXSW. We have been in contact with creators and their representatives in order to continue to give films coverage. We will respect all embargoes and work to give these films and our readers the coverage we had planned.

A quick peek at any social media will tell a person all they need to know about the importance of dogs. Our very own SXSW (At Home) coverage started with a look at the relationship between humans and dogs. The Carnivores from Caleb Michael Johnson also deals with the same theme. Things seem to be a bit more sinister in this intimate film, however.

The Carnivores centers on Alice and Bret. At a glance, the couple appear to be happy. Bret is arguably too concerned about her dog Harvie. Meanwhile, Alice seems to be bothered by his mere existence. When Alice wakes up one night with a leash bin her hand and Harvie’s severed ear next to her, the two reexamine their relationship.

The movie does a great job of showing how the three lives are intertwined. Early on, the audience is shown the dynamic between all of them. Before much has been said, Johnson quietly clues the audience in on how the three live. Harvie is literally between the two. The difference is Alice seems to view the dog as an obstacle while Bret thinks he is part of the family.

This plays out very well over the course of The Carnivores. Tallie Medel is fantastic as Alice. The character is confused and frustrated. Medel plays her with a sense of defeated resignation. She obviously wants to do something about Harvie, but she also loves Bret. Medel plays the conflicted character perfectly. Lindsay Burdge also is great in the role of Bret. As the dog owner who cares too much about her pet, Burdge will engage the audience. There is a sense of pity and anger. Why does she care so much for her dog and so little for her girlfriend?

Harvie is obviously an integral part of the movie, but it is the subtleties that are most impressive. The two women hold conversations that show how fragile they are. But who are they talking to? Barking is heard constantly showing just how much the dog has consumed the women’s lives. (Harvie seems to know more than the women do.)  Watching Alice change as the plot progresses is an amazing bit of character development.

The Carnivores is one of those movies that is hard to categorize. It is a character study with comedy and thriller elements. Alice’s character arc is particularly interesting and the story will draw the audience in. Dog lovers and horror fans will gravitate towards this film. That being said, The Carnivores is a unique movie that will impress any who watch it.

The Carnivores (2020)
Is it good?
An intimate picture that will make the audience feel various emotions. A great character study filled with powerful storytelling.
A great story that has a satisfying ending
Medel and Burdge get the most out of their characters
Perfect pacing
Some may be turned off by the character of Bret
8.5
Great
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