Remember the Rotenburg Cannibal, the true and horrific story of a German man who posted a want ad online looking for a “well-built 18 to 30-year-old to be slaughtered and consumed”?

Why hasn’t that been made into a movie?

The case seems to have at least partly inspired German filmmaker Andreas Schaap’s Must Love Death, which is screening tonight as part of the Edmonton International Film Festival’s Edge of Night series. Showtime is 9:30 p.m. at Empire City Centre 9 cinemas.

In Must Love Death, lovelorn loser Norman (Sami Loris) is looking to escape the travails of the earthly plane and answers a want ad from like-minded individuals who are looking to seal their fate in a mass suicide pact. Things go awry when Norman discovers that the ad posters have no intention of offing themselves, but only the respondents — all filmed as part of a sick low-rent game show.

That premise alone works in Must Love Death, even if it is rife with nods to series flicks like Saw and Hostel and the cheekiness of old-school Quentin Tarantino movies — it’s either an homage or a rip-off, depending on your perspective. Schaap is a talented filmmaker; he strikes an interesting, albeit somewhat uneven, balance between absurd and truly gory.

 

While it’s unquestionably a great-looking film (thanks to the work of cinematographer Jakub Bejnarowicz), it does get undermined by its own star-crossed romantic subplot as Jennifer (Manon Kahle) finally comes to her senses and Norman’s rescue.

Supposedly, the blame falls on the director’s girlfriend as she and Schaap could never agree on what they dug about movies, so he ended up splicing rom-com and torture porn together. It’s an inspired combo that doesn’t quite work, though Must Love Death would make for pretty oddball viewing on a date night.

Also playing tonight are It Might Get Loud, director Davis Guggenheim’s rock exploratory featuring U2’s the Edge, Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and the White Stripes’ Jack White, and director Pedro Almodovar’s Broken Embraces, starring Penelope Cruz. The films start at 6:45 and 9 p.m. respectively.

For a complete EIFF schedule, go online to edmontonfilmfest.com.