The Carnivores (2020) 

A couple dealing with the slow loss of health of their dog faces issues between them and in their lives on top of it. As they try and manage the emotional toll, each of them deals in her own way. 

Caleb Michael Johnson and Jeff Bay Smith with additional dialogue by Tallie Medel, Lindsay Burdge, Frank Mosley, Vincent James Prendergast, and Jason Newman with Caleb Michael Johnson directing. That is a lot of names right there, perhaps even too many one could say. This film is a possibly a case of too many cooks or something like that as it could have been great, but it’s a complete bore. Possibly ever scene in this was overthought and overwritten. The whole film comes off looking like a student thesis film, but without the usual balls involved in making those. It’s a neutered thesis film. There are a few good ideas in there, but the way the film develops them just doesn’t keep the interest and eventually the viewer just stops paying attention. Once a film loses the attention of its viewer, it takes a lot to bring it back, something this film does not find anywhere along the way. The way things are directed, on top of the way they are written, doesn’t bring much flare or interest to the story, so it still is a loss on that side of things as well. 

The acting in this is ok, but once you don’t care about the characters, nothing short of spectacularly great or spectacularly craptastic performances can really make the cast stand out. So here, the cast does ok, but the viewer, at least this viewer, doesn’t care pretty quickly. Usually, the best performances would be highlighted here, but it’s all pretty bland. The blame is mostly not on the cast though as the previous paragraph would show that the material at hand was possibly not going to be salvaged by performances. So, instead of singling someone out, it’s a case of the cast seem all pretty even in their performances, not great, not bad, just kind of there. (Quick shout out to the dog and their handlers, great work here, thank you.) 

The Carnivores is a complete let down of a film. It has the possibility of being a genius piece of independent filmmaking with a strong commentary, but it that is what it was going for, it missed the mark completely. The other way to make this a great film would have been to really push the bizarro to the max and make it a sort of hallucination/nightmare/dreamscape of life which would have made some of the oddities found in the film make more sense and would have really brought something fascinating to the screen. As the filmmaker opted for neither of these options, the film is one that loses the interest pretty quickly and never gains it back.