Last night I watched Juan Antonio Bayona’s Society of the Snow (Netflix, now streaming), and while it’s obviously a thumbs-upper in several respects I don’t quite understand why so many critics have been doing acrobatic cartwheels.

It’s very good but it’s not a film that enables you to meet or know God…it doesn’t cleanse or purify your soul or bring about a shuddering emotional orgasm. Turn it down, ease up.

Society is obviously a very well-made, bracingly realistic survival film. I never felt it was doing anything but dealing straight cards about that horrible real-life ordeal that befell that Uruguayan rugby team when their prop plane crashed into the snowy Andes mountains in mid October of ‘72.

The smallish plane was carrying 45 passengers; upon rescue 71 days later all but 16 had died, and the survivors wouldn’t have lived if they hadn’t resorted to cannibalism, and not just strips of flesh and muscle but internal organs (heart, lungs, brains)…horrific but true.

I still feel that Bayona’s The Orphanage (’07) is his finest film, but Society of the Snow is quite the rugged accomplishment and I have no serious complaints. I do, however, have a few small ones.

One, there’s too much “acting” among the ensemble cast of young lads…too much eye contact, too much hugging, not enough bitter humor or a sense of “we’re fucked and I don’t need to fucking hug you” solitude.

Two, the incessant debate about whether or not they should eat their dead comrades in order to live is ridiculous — if they didn’t eat something (and there was nothing to eat up there) they would have died, period, and yet some (they were all Roman Catholics) insist that eating human flesh will damn their souls for eternity. Asinine.

Three, I should compare Society of the Snow with Frank Marshall‘s Alive (’93), which told the exact same story, but it’s been 30 years and I need to re-stream it. Does anyone have any vivid memories? Reviews mere moderately positive.

Four, Bayona’s film doesn’t make it clear that the crash happened entirely due to pilot error. Flight 571’s inexperienced co-pilot, Lieutenant-Colonel Dante Héctor Lagurara, fucked up and pretty much committed manslaughter, plain and simple.

Five, Bayona allows the viewer to presume that the survivors are eating the tastiest parts of the human body (ribs, arms, legs) until we see a glimpse of a stripped human rib cage…holy shit.

But there’s no question that Society is a first-rate effort…your belief in the frosty realism is absolute and bruising. I just didn’t find it miraculous or breathtaking or drop-to-your-knees astonishing. But it’s worth seeing.