Alice (Tallie Medel) is in too deep. Her girlfriend Bret (Lindsay Burdge) is becoming more and more distant and distracted by their dog, Harvie, and his illness. Medical bills for Harvie are piling up well beyond their means. Their sex life is completely nonexistant. Alice can’t sleep at night, and when she does sleep she sleepwalks and wakes up in bizarre places under bizarre circumstances. Worst of all for Alice, she feels she can’t share any of this with Bret. Their relationship is already stretched and strained to its limits when Harvie goes missing. Alice knows more about Harvie than she’s willing to admit, but what’s true and what’s mental illness – what’s the story Alice tells herself – is up to Bret to decipher. Their relationship and their love will be pushed to the brink, but maybe it takes a tragedy, and a huge mistake, to make these two reprioritize what truly matters.

THE CARNIVORES is a poignant, quirky drama with a horror edge. If Wes Anderson ever made a movie about crazy, sexually frustrated lesbians, I imagine this is what it would look like. The imagery of THE CARNIVORES is fraught with symbolism and double entendre, and the subtlety of the visual language is incredibly fulfilling and exciting. Colors and textures play into THE CARNIVORES in a huge way. Everything from the dirt on Alice’s feet to the condensation on the outside of her water bottle is a character in this story. Fitting, as the cast itself is quite small, as the story focuses solely on these two women, without much extraneous or distracting secondary character stories or background noise. The intimacy of the film is a perfect balance to the lack of intimacy in Bret and Alice’s life, and we can’t help but ache for Alice as she struggles to maintain a weak grasp on her love and her life.

Tallie Medel gives a top notch performance as Alice. Adorably heartbreaking, crushingly sweet, beautifully tragic – Medel gives us a master class in wordless character work in THE CARNIVORES. I found myself falling for her just a little through the screen – noticing the lovely things Bret mentions in their attempt at an intimacy exercise in the film. There is a charm and beauty to Medel that plays so fantastically against the frantic and frenetic nature of Alice. Lindsay Burdge as Bret provides the perfect straight woman to Medel’s quirky and endearing Alice, occasionally coming off as stoic and almost cold. There IS chemistry between these two, and it bubbles just beneath the surface, leading us as the audience to feel the same frustration that drives Alice to the brink of madness – and causes her to do the unthinkable… or does it?

THE CARNIVORES is a haunting, beautiful tale of love and loss, and the lengths you’d be willing to go to save what you believe in – and your family. Framed with feminism and empowerment and sprinkled with just enough suspense and horror, THE CARNIVORES tells a modern love story pushed to new, bizarre lengths. Reality and fantasy, dreams and waking, solitude and immense romance come together to create a symphony of bloody good “dramedy”, set to a stunning visual feast.

8/10 stars

The Carnivores
RATING: UR No Trailer Available
Runtime: 1 hr 17Mins.
Directed By:
Caleb Michael Johnson
Written By:
Caleb Michael Johnson and Jeff Bay Smith

About the Author: Miranda Riddle

Makeup Artist, Monster Maker, Educator, Producer, Haunt-lover, and all around Halloween freak. When Miranda isn't watching horror films, she's making them happen. When she's not doing either of those things, she's probably dreaming about them. Or baking cookies.
By Published On: March 15, 2020Categories: FIlm Festivals, Movies, Reviews, SXSWComments Off on Sexy, sad surprises in THE CARNIVORESTags: ,