Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Carnage (2017)

Fig 1 - Carnage Poster
Carnage is a high-concept 'mockumentary' by Simon Amstell that follows a timeline of events leading up to the utopian Britain of 2067, in which all of it's citizens are now vegan. The film exhibits an array of real-life archive footage regarding the social instillation of veganism, satirically narrated by Amstell with a darkly comic sincerity. With the murder and exploitation of animals now outlawed, the narration serves as a study into the 'grim' past of society, looked back upon as a tragic holocaust for the animal kingdom. The film includes several tongue-in-cheek segments of therapy sessions for surviving meat-eaters, which has them throwing a beanbag to one another whilst naming a type of cheese they shamefully once consumed. This scene, if anything, completely sets the tone for the film, which doesn't shame one into converting to veganism, but rather lays out the facts and over-exaggerates the argument from both sides to great comic avail.

What struck me was how similar it felt to the work of Charlie Brooker, whose near-future drama Black Mirror (2011-) sets a similar tone in it's approach to carving an alternate reality based on specific themes (albeit usually the retaliation of superior technology). In this instance, the future has us wearing small devices near our eyes, as seen in orchestrated talking-head segments, which are improved gradually across the timeline starting with RoboCop-style visors. Though the film isn't about the tech, it was nice to see they put some thought into the mock-progression of time, having surpassed all 'genuine' footage. Incidentally, Amstell's commentary over the pre-existing material felt tonally similar to the show Screenwipe (2006-09) in which Brooker would analyse television and marketing from a comedic perspective. As a fan of both shows, I found their parallels entirely welcome.

Fig 2 - Carnage - Britain 2067
In addition, the film conjures up a 'completely plausible' future in which vegans and meat-eaters are socially divided, swine flu becomes a mass epidemic and eventually the UK has pyramids for some reason. It is all a bit of fun, but clearly Amstell holds the message of the film dear to his chest and, honestly his approach feels more effective than the 'shock-value' of demonstrations by campaigners like PETA (which are essentially parodied here). The film isn't overtly graphic or violent, but rather demonstrates the fact that we too are animals and should, in our superiority, have learnt to live in harmony with living creatures by now.

I can't imagine many would find this film to be overly 'preachy' in it's central message, but either way it stands as a humorous take on the social climate of consumption. It might not be changing minds now, but perhaps someday we'll look back on Carnage with a much guiltier conscience...


Fig. 1 Carnage Poster (2017) From: Carnage - Directed by: Simon Amstell

Fig. 2 Carnage Screenshot (2017) From: Carnage - Directed by: Simon Amstell

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