Sawney: Flesh of Man (2012) Content Warning: Gore, Strong Violence, Cannibalism, Sexual Violence

This review contains some graphic images: A Note on Movie Musings

Sawney: Flesh of Man (2012)

Directed by Ricky Wood

Starring David Hayman, Samuel Feeney, Gavin Mitchell, William Houston

Scottish cannibal Sawney Bean and his murderous, inbred family are responsible for over a thousand murders over the centuries.

IMDb Rating: 4.5

The Legend of Sawney Bean

If the name hasn’t given it away, Sawney: Flesh of Man, takes the legend of Sawney Bean as its inspiration. For those not in the know, Sawney Bean was alleged to have been the leader of a cannibalistic family that preyed on travellers in Scotland, sometime between the 15th and 16th Centuries. According to legend, King James VI of Scotland (later I of England) led a group of four hundred men to capture the Sawney Bean clan, and then executed them without trial.

Kath's Movie Musings: Sawney: Flesh of Man (2012)
Apparently when these folk give birth, they piss blood in your face.

There are few historical records to back any of this up. The chances are that Sawney Bean and his murderous kin are an exaggeration and combination of various people and folklore tales. Still, that doesn’t matter for a movie! So in this story, we’re informed that there was a Sawney Bean family member who survived and carried on into the present day.

Inbreeding; That’s a Paddlin’.

Now it does get a bit muddled. Presumably, due to centuries worth of inbreeding, the Sawney clan are somewhat mutated and beast-like. A couple of them have also become quite adept at parkour. Not all of them are mutated, though, which is convenient. We open with a vet being driven out into the Scottish Highlands to help “mother” give birth. He never actually gets that far before being gunned down for… reasons.

Kath's Movie Musings: Sawney: Flesh of Man (2012)
Yep. This guy has something of a blood fixation.

Then we jump to the present day. Rebecca (Shian Denovan) has an argument with her boyfriend and hops in a taxi driven by Sawney (David Hayman). Things go south for her from there. Meanwhile, investigative reporter Hamish (Samuel Feeney) is on the case! His ex’s sister, Charlotte (Eilidh Nairn) has been found cut into pieces. Hamish has written a very graphic article about the whole thing. He believes people have a right to know. His ex, Wendy (Lizzie Brown) is not happy, nor is Inspector Bill (Gavin Mitchell).

Murder He Wrote

Undeterred, Hamish is adamant that he’s going to get to the bottom of it all. All the while, Sawney and his inbred ilk are serving up platters of organs with blood for gravy, torturing and raping Charlotte (and later a traffic warden) and being as disgusting as possible. For more shits and giggles, Sawney is a bit of a religious fanatic, taking the whole blood and body of man stuff a tad too far.

Kath's Movie Musings: Sawney: Flesh of Man (2012)
When you’re concerned your cannibalistic, blood-crazed, rapist villain isn’t obviously a degenerate, have him lick someone’s face. That’ll do it.

And yeah, that’s pretty much it. Tedious investigation mixed with extreme depravity. If you have popped on this site before, you will know I’m not bothered by the disgusting shit in movies. When it’s well done, I kinda dig it! This? No, it’s not well done. The story is wafer thin, to the point that the big twist (yes, there’s gotta be a twist!) is so obvious I got bored waiting for it. I will say this, though; I did not expect a sub-machine gun to turn up.

Kath's Movie Musings: Sawney: Flesh of Man (2012)
We’re supposed to care about this relationship. Hard to do when I’ve shared more words with my own bum this week than these two ever have.

There are some good qualities, of course. A few clever stylistic touches at times do stir up some tension to compensate for the utter lack of depth. I’ll give David Hayman some credit too; in a film where virtually everyone is phoning it in, his absurdly over the top performance provides some welcome relief.


Beyond those few bright spots though is a movie that is scarcely worth the time. Not one of the characters has any depth. Hamish and Wendy’s relationship is so under-explored that Loverboy and Kylie from Girl House seem closer. Really, what you’ve got is a movie that might satisfy the hardcore gore fans but is completely devoid of any narrative quality.