Straddling comedy, horror and drama genres, Anders Thomas Jensen’s 2015 film Men & Chicken is on the brink of insanity. It is certain to be any dark comedy director’s dark comedy; Jensen has crafted a unique blend of laconic humour, deadpan wit and outlandish setting.
Upon learning from their father, posthumously, that they are not his biological sons Gabriel (David Dencik) and Elias (Mads Mikkelsen) set out to the south Denmark island Ork to find their estranged family.
The brothers track their real father, a stem cell research geneticist, to an abandoned asylum where farm animals roam free. Elias and Gabriel also discover their three half brothers, deformed chickens, homemade cheese and misconstrued taxidermy.
After being met with hostility by the three half brothers, Gabriel and Elias are eventually accepted into the household. Although the eccentric behavior of Elias is off-setting – like his compulsive masturbation or dull-witted stare – his new half brothers are a trio of raving lunatics. Franz (Soren Malling), Gregor (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) and Josef (Nicolas Bro) act as the caretakers for the asylum’s animals and one remaining guest – Evelin Thanatos.
While it would seem that the claim that the five men are brothers is supported by their lunacy and the fact that they all share a small similar facial deformity, still Gabriel is the black sheep of the family. While seeking answers to their father’s research and the elusiveness of their mothers’ identities and whereabouts, Gabriel is suppressed at all costs by Franz and the other brothers.
The zither-like waltzing score will have you cringing in your seat by the time the botched genetic research experiment paraphernalia solidifies the absurdness of Men & Chicken.
As some of the residents of the island of Ork would suggest, there is something horrible and terribly irregular about the Thanatos’ family lineage. This dark comedy is a hearty laugh and charmingly twisted.
Men & Chicken screens on Sunday, Oct 16 at 7:30 p.m. at Yukon Arts Centre following the 2016 documentary film Seed: The Untold Story, which screens at 5:00 p.m.