South Philly director is preparing another horror film


A native of South Philly, Mario Cerrito produced the horror film Human Hibachi and has a sequel in the works. Contribution photo.

The entree was so appetizing that Mario Cerrito decided to come back for a few seconds.

Cerrito, a South Philly-born independent filmmaker, rose to worldwide cult following after film fame with his offering of Human hibachi in 2019.

The indie horror film garnered looks and accolades for its exaggerated gore and unique storytelling, which was filmed in a found footage style. Horror fans around the world wanted more cannibalistic thriller, so Cerrito is in the process of making a sequel.

“The first film was known for its poise and shock,” Cerrito said while filming Human hibachi 2 last month. “It was the main element. The point of this movie is to surpass that, which I think we’ll do. You don’t know until the movie is over, but people involved in both told me that was overkill.

The first film was set in Delaware with other brief scenes in Riverside, New Jersey. Part 2 dates back to Burlington County, as the majority was filmed in a house in the woods in Mount Holly. The film is currently being edited and produced and is hoping for a release in early 2022.

The first Human Hibachi was picked up by Troma Entertainment, which gave a low budget movie a big boost. Soon after, Cerrito was receiving messages from all over the world about his film. Fans from Australia, Japan and the Philippines as well as European nations from Germany, England and Italy are just a few of the places that have taken a liking to the film.

The actors prepare for a scene in Human Hibachi 2, which was filmed in Mount Holly, New Jersey. Contribution photo.

“That’s when he really took off to the point where he had international cult following,” Cerrito said. “The DVD was sold in about fifteen countries. This is something you don’t imagine when making a low budget movie. You dream of this scenario.

Both films were shot on iPhones, which brings a Blair Witch Project touch to the storytelling. The plot of the first film follows a couple celebrating a woman’s birthday at a Japanese restaurant. Wealthy cannibals pay the owner of the establishment to capture and cook the victims. Cerrito got the idea while dining at a restaurant one night with friends. To be clear, the restaurant did not serve humans.

“I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be crazy if after office hours they shut down this place and started serving humans? “Said Cerrito, who now lives in Mantua, New Jersey.” I was kidding. And then we thought it might actually be a good idea for some cult genre of film. Two or three years later, I wrote it down and the rest is history.

Cerrito had previously produced films Deadly Gamble (2015) and The Listing (2017), which were shot in the more traditional style. Cerrito said filming Human Hibachi on an iPhone also helped cut costs, which helped spread the funding to other areas. It’s also an intriguing way to tell a story.

“It gives that element that draws the viewer in because you feel like you’re there,” Cerrito said. “I’ve always been a fan of the Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity. It’s also super affordable. You have to find a way to make something fun and affordable. I can shoot it on my cell phone without having to pay film crews and you can get away with mistakes because it’s supposed to look really raw. It’s the perfect little genre and the opportunity for an independent filmmaker to create a buzz.

And it certainly happened.

Human Hibachi has been selected by the New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival and the Philadelphia Independent Film Festival. It was recently nominated for two award categories at New Jersey Horror Con and won the Best Feature Film award.

Cerrito hopes Part 2 takes it even further.

He wouldn’t reveal much about the plot, but said it would be different in the sense that this film surrounds a few survivors from the first film who are hunted down by a cannibalistic family who found footage of them from the previous film.

Backed by the buzz of the first film, Cerrito is set to make some more noise with Part 2.

“I always knew the title alone was going to blow him up,” Cerrito said. “I wrote part 2 this year and shot during the summer. It moved pretty quickly. And I know it’s going to explode because the sequels always do.

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