Shot in a gritty 35mm documentary format, MAN BITES DOG is a film about making film that uses a charismatic but merciless serial killer as its central focus. An Independent film crew follows the charming Benoit through his daily activities, waxing intellectual in the spare moments between his ruthless murders. Benoit's callous attitude towards his actions and victims makes for endless moments of brilliant black comedy as he speaks openly about the killings with the same indifferent tone he uses to discuss politics or red wine. Each of the performances by the immediate and supporting cast members are 100% authentic, none of which feel staged or scripted even for a moment. This is mainly achieved by filming the actors interacting with their own friends and family on screen in natural social exchanges. Benoit is able to turn on a dime, shifting from the jovial jokester into a cold-blooded killer in seconds. The crew members themselves (who double as the cast) show their understanding of the process through every scene. Seemingly imprecise camera movements and technical errors are meticulously planned in advance to create the illusion of a bumbling group of first-time filmmakers. The rash editing style creates a jarring juxtaposition between the lighthearted scenes in which Benoit shares his personal philosophies and the brutal scenes of extreme violence and gore where he coldly shoots strangers in the head and dumps their bodies into a rock quarry. The documentary style is representative of the media filter that serves to desensitize the audience and allows the violent actions to become acceptable when told through the camera lens. Remy and his crew are able to distance themselves from the events unfolding before them by experiencing the horrors safely through the camera, just as the audience accepts the social terrors as entertainment when told through the film medium. Despite the inevitable conclusions critics will draw based on the voyeuristic depictions of violence, the creators resolve that the film is not a social commentary against violence in the media so much as it is a study of the filmmaking process itself, with the main character and plot being inconsequential to the creative process. Preceding BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON by nearly a decade and a half, this faux documentary is as innovative and original as it is entertaining and well made. It is an important film particularly for aspiring filmmakers that can be equally enjoyed by Horror fans and non-fans alike.
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