Not up on your Philippine cultural and political history? Khavn's incendiary film probably won't bring you up to speed, but it will wake you up like a slap to the face with a huge hand made from frigid salt water. Filipino activists, scholars and others should feel that same stinging slap, even if they get the joke more than casual viewers. Khavn's agit-prop surrealist mélange might flirt with various levels of incomprehensibility, but if you've sat through anything by David Lynch, you're primed for the nightmare logic dispensed by this fierce filmmaker.
Drawing inspiration seemingly equally from the canons of Lynch, Harmony Korine, Takashi Miike and Alejandro Jodorowsky, Khavn throws down the gantlet early in his fractured narrative, constructing a credits-sequence around clay animation scenes of brutal, violent and graphic rape. Jan Svankmajer has nothing to worry about, but we do, as we're then introduced to the bizarre titular family, a tight clan that really eats soil - albeit cleverly prepared soil - for every meal. Various family meal scenes are jaggedly cut in throughout the movie, which otherwise bounces haphazardly from one family member's thing to another's.
All sorts of crazy stuff goes on within and without this family, including prostitution, aggressive drug dealing and murder. Somehow, though much of it makes little sense, it all seems quite plausible. From the put-upon, simmering father figure to the more unusual family members - a full-grown infant midget and a bleeding zombie poet, for instance - Khavn's family creation is all about obtuse transgression, pushing boundaries in a way that's at once familiar, intelligent, casual, hilarious, bizarre and enraged. Put lightly, graphic violence, taboo subject matter and extended sequences of real cock fighting are there to inflame and offend you; it's stuff that's not for everyone.
Even if you don't pick up on the message or understand the symbolism, (the weird cadaverous gentlemen staggering around the streets with cotton balls shoved in his nostrils is so far beyond my ken it's not even funny) you sense systematic, purposeful design behind the madness.
Notably, Khavn's rhythmic placement of family meals throughout the movie acts as a type of ironic glue holding the whole thing together. While Khavn bludgeons you with a psychedelic frenzy of aggressive weirdness, anger and disenfranchisement, he mockingly reminds you of the importance of family. As his semi-functioning dysfunctional family repeatedly meets around the table, inwardly cursing their lives (and their diet) a lasting connection is implied. Though these 'kids' may hate everything, themselves, and especially their horrible parents - they somehow seem unhappily wedded to the idea that whatever they're stuck with, their family is the stickiest.