There are a lot of horror fans out there that don’t eat meat. While it’s a strange dichotomy that shatters a perceived genre stereotype, the lifestyle happens so frequently in the industry that there has to be something to it at a subconscious level. Real life bloodletting means inflicted suffering, which to us, equals pure evil. Or, maybe our overactive imaginations just makes every animal protein a mystery meat. With that thought in mind, let’s take a look at the 2020 film, Human Hibachi.
Human Hibachi was written and directed by Mario Cerrito III (The Listing 2017). The cast includes Wataru Nishida (Japanese Borscht 2019), Carley Harper (Rebel 2018), Andrew Hunsicker (Law of Perdition TV series), Sopheaktra Theng (What Death Leaves Behind 2018), Elizabeth Gaynor (The Worry Doll 2019), Jeff Alpert (Girls Just Wanna Have Blood) Stafford Chavis (The Dark Knight Rises 2012), John Campanile (A Cartel Story 2015), Carmine Giordano (Messenger of Wrath 2017), Zachary Pun Chung (Jade (Superhero) 2018) and K. Andrew Deffley (Mutual Friends 2016).
Cerrito’s Human Hibachi is a modern day tale of cannibalism, and that in itself makes the film rather unique. It’s a sub genre that’s been explored but definitely not colonized. I had just recently re-visited Cannibal Ferox (1981) and the scenes with the persecuted natives eating the Italians are classic. It did for cannibals what Romero did for zombies, and has paved the way for films like Human Hibachi.
However, in a more affluent, modern, technologically advanced, science-based society, what could possibly motivate one man to eat another? That’s what so interesting about Human Hibachi. Cerrito’s strength has always been his writing and the fact that he has absolutely no reservations about making the unconventional conventional. First world cannibalism is a whole other galaxy of human depravity. Not out of necessity, but because some have a boatload of money and nothing else to do. Love or hate Eli Roth, but Hostel got everyone thinking that nothing good can come from an evil mind and lots of expendable income.
The majority of Human Hibachi is found footage with a wraparound story. Katie is celebrating her 35th birthday, and her boyfriend, Reo, is not only giving her the perfect day, but also documenting it on video. After new clothes and the hair salon, everything is building up to a spectacular evening at the restaurant where Reo works. During a seemingly splendid dinner with friends, everyone starts to get the very uncomfortable vibe that something is amiss.
The biggest compliment that I can give Human Hibachi is that discussing the plot in the review does a disservice to what Cerrito was trying to accomplish. Yes, it is about cannibalism, but the most interesting thing about the film is how it gets there, and then what happens when it does. First world cannibalism is as ripe for social metaphor as the zombie genre used to be. Wealth, power, position and a delicate palette makes for a crazy and insane ride.
Mario Cerrito III’s career is just getting started. He’s already written and directed two feature films, Deadly Gamble (2015) and The Listing (2017), the former being about a game of high stakes poker gone horribly wrong, while the latter makes you think twice next time you go house shopping. He’s a talented to guy that doesn’t pick one genre intentionally. His sensibilities lend more to good stories… that just happen to have some terrifying aspects. One moment of betrayal in Human Hibachi made my skin crawl more than any of the gore. That alone merits a definite recommendation from me. Keep an eye out for Human Hibachi, which releases April 2020.