The French are stereotypically a nation of carnivores. Even with an increasing interest in vegetarianism, Le Monde newspaper reported in 2017 that only 2% completely eschew meat. The popular apocryphal tale is of visitors requesting the vegetarian option and receiving chicken. In Fabrice Eboué’s raucous, cheerily bellicose black comedy Some Like it Rare however, there seems to be no end of ripe and corn-fed Gallic vegans for the hungry blade of the butcher’s cleaver. The vegan community may be the victims of this irreverent slice of cannibal hilarity, but its targets are many.

Vincent (Eboué) and Sophie Pascal (Marina Foïs) are husband and wife proprietors of a small butcher shop. It’s difficult to say which is failing faster, their business or their marriage. Vincent’s insistence on only the best meat has chewed into any profits they may get from their dwindling customer base. Their obnoxious friends Marc and Stéphanie (Jean-François Cayrey and Virginie Hocq) have meanwhile become millionaires flogging mass-farmed processed rubbish. Things get worse when Vincent accidentally kills one of a group of vegans who target his shop. Vincent chops up the dead man with the intention of disposing of him with other meat scraps, but Sophie accidentally sells part of the corpse as ham. And it’s delicious. Before long, there are queues around the block for Vincent’s ‘Iranian pork’, and as business improves and the Pascals rekindle their spark, it’s clear supply must meet demand.

Some Like it Rare is one of the undoubted highlights of FrightFest, and for those possessed of a mordant sense of humour is one of the funniest films you’ll see this year. It’s astonishing how far Eboué is willing to go in search of a laugh, taking pot shots at self-righteous activists, corporate greed, racism, and media sensationalism among other things. Somehow it does it all with such an innocent ‘who, me?’ wink that it never comes across as genuinely offensive. Part of this comes from Eboué and Foïs’ winning turns as a genuinely lovable couple who we want to succeed long past the point where their actions become heinous. Eboué in particular is almost impossible to parse as the calm slaughterer of dozens, only snapping out of good-natured befuddlement with a gleaming cleaver in hand.

It’s not the first time this madcap scenario has been brought to screen. There was Hilary Briss‘ ‘special stuff’ in The League of Gentlemen, and the little-seen Mads Mikkelsen comedy The Green Butchers is very similar in story and tone. Neither however build to the barrelling, madcap momentum of Eboué’s film, a steady escalation of carnage that leaves jaws slack with shock and sides ruptured from laughter. This culminates in a brilliant montage that juxtaposes Vincent’s spree with various big cats in action, ironically depicting this cuddly character’s ascent towards apex predator.

To its detriment, is does threaten to become slightly repetitious once it finds its groove, and the Pascal’s actions back Eboué into a narrative corner enough that the antagonistic vegan activists the couple infiltrate have to be cartoonishly evil to compensate. It all also rather splatters to a sudden stop instead of finding a smooth and satisfying ending. Despite this, Some Like it Rare is a prime cut of devilishly dark comedy, with an astonishing hit rate of splatstick humour and biting dialogue. It may look like an acquired taste, but given a chance even vegans may find something to get their teeth into here.

As part of FrightFest at Glasgow Film Festival and on Digital Platforms from Mon 21 Mar 2022