Released September 19, 2013 – Screened at the Mile High Horror Festival at the Alamo Draft House on October 6, 2013
Jason David Brown – Jack/Septic Man
Molly Dunsworth – Shelly
Robert Maillet – Giant
Tim Burd – Lord Auch
Julian Richings – Prosser
Stephen McHattie – Mayor
(Just wanted to note that all the showings at the Mile High Horror Festival were screened at the Alamo Draft House, which was an absolutely fantastic venue. Not only are the seats comfortable and spacious, each set of two have their very own table where you can write out your order for food or beer and place it up on the table and an usher will get it for you immediately. It’s a lot like Casa Bonita for movies, without food that has a high probability of giving you a communicable disease. The sound and picture quality are top of the line, and they have the strongest cell phone signal blocker allowed by the federal government and DARPA. Not only can you kick back fantastic beers and watch great movies, nobody in the theater is able to interrupt your experience by updating their facebook status or getting calls from their BFF Jill. Treat yourself to a viewing at the Draft House, it is truly the next level of movie-going entertainment!)
I arrived somewhat late to my showing of Septic Man, and was hurriedly shuffled to the wrong theater. I tripped over the table in front of the seating and sat down and was somewhat puzzled, as they were showing a movie about Civil War soldiers and aliens having a psychic connection, trying to resurrect the South. I then took a chance that I had been wrongly directed and ran out of the theater and asked the doorman “Where is the TOILET MOVIE at?” He assured me it was in theater 7, not 4.
I arrived just as they were introducing the movie on the stage and the girl joked about how this was a pretty disgusting movie and if we came for gross, this was the place to be. After the lights dimmed, the movie started right up and went right for the jugular. The opening scene was awful. There was a girl on the toilet trying, in desperation and excruciating pain to pass a Volkswagen out her colon to no avail. Lots, and lots of vomiting ensued along with more explosions from her backside, looking like a dysentery fingercuffs explosion of bodily fluids. To top of this disgusting spectacle, it was all done in a darkly lit bathroom covered from end to end in filth and slime, not much unlike a restroom at Circle K.
As the girl collapsed in a pool of her own mess, on top of several inches of preexisting vomi-poop, and she dies from septic shock or something, convulsing and spraying from both ends.
“Holy fuck!” I thought to myself. “I’ve been tricked into watching a German Shizer movie!”
And from that point forward, the plot got even more confusing. The movie is two parts Saw, one part Of Mice and Men, and one part Toxic Avenger. And a whole lot of poop as a secondary costar/set/prop/food source/weapon/sculpturing putty.
The town of Collinwood is under a siege of nuclear-level dysentery which is ravaging the small population from something mysteriously contaminating the water supply. As they are explaining the plague destroying the populace on the local news channel, it switches from people with exploding assholes to people turning into zombies getting executed with extreme prejudice by the CDC. Right off the bat, it switches the main problem from disease to zombification, which not only made the actual problem really confusing, but changes the rules of engagement altogether. The town decides to evacuate everyone by midnight to circumvent any further contamination. There’s lots of government public addressing by the town’s mayor over the television, but it seems far too overdone, and lends to a strange feeling of government conspiracy which dumbs the whole thing down a bit. An unknown terror destroying humanity is terrifying, but the whole predisposition that somehow the government is somehow behind it all really takes the realism down a notch and removes you that much further from believing any bit of the storyline.
Everyone in the town gets evacuated as the sun starts setting, except for our hero. The local septic maintenance worker, “Septic Man” Jack (Jason David Brown), who actually does a fantastic job in the role and is by far the best actor in the movie. He plays a blue collar worker who takes pride in his work despite him removing a giant dead muskrat from a toilet main in the opening scene. He has no problem with his place in life, and glows a sense of humility and compassion from his eyes. As he is removing the sewage blockage, he is approached by a mysterious man, Prosser (Julian Richings) who is contracted from an unknown source to ask the Septic Man to stay behind and investigate the cause of the water contamination. Jack refuses initially, but after the mysterious man offers him $20,000 cash to stay and $180,000 after the job is completed along with the spoils of fame and a desk job, far away from the fields of feces, and Jack finally agrees. Clearly, this story takes place in America and everyone speaks with an American accent, but strangely, Prosser pays Jack in New Zealand currency. I don’t know about you, but if I was going to fight an unknown disease alone, I’d prefer to be paid to do it in money I could actually use.
Jack’s wife, (Molly Dunsworth) is pregnant with his baby, and under emotional duress he has to tell her that he is going to stay for the cash. Every scene that she is in, she is absolutely terrible. There’s no emotion, her lines are forced, and she’s basically in the movie only to add dimension to the character of Jack with the convincing realism of a cardboard standee from Twilight. She gets frustrated with his stubbornness and walks out the door in a huff to be quarantined. Jack stays behind, draws a warm bath of contaminated water and Mr. Bubble and talks to himself a lot to try and make sense of which action he needs to take next. He pulls out a blueprint of the water treatment plant and decides to go into the depths of the underground sewage piping.
He then goes deep into the filthy catacombs to try and find the cause of the illness. He starts turning valves and then for some reason, decides to investigate the deepest part, a septic overflow tank in the flooring that is only opened by a bulkhead. As he starts to climb downwards, there is no ladder so he falls twenty feet down into the bottom, where he is surrounded by tepid feces and several dead bodies which are jammed in the lowest piping. He’s convinced he’s found the cause of the outbreak, but on the flip side, he’s trapped inside the sewer’s sewer. This disgusting setting was intensified by me getting the bonus of watching the movie in 4D, the guys next to me ordered a plate of chili dogs or something and were extremely…..gassy. It made the sewer scenes far more realistic than they really needed to be. After Jack fumbles around in the mess of poop and bodies for a while, he starts throwing up, like every twenty seconds from that point on. There’s been a new benchmark set for cinematic record for the amount of onscreen vomiting in this movie. It’s a constant river of puke at all times. I have no idea how anybody managed to eat ANYTHING during the course of this film.
Jack is trapped in this dark black septic tank alone and screams for hours for help, but everyone in town has been evacuated, so all of his attempts are in vain. He attempts escape though the lower drainage pipes, but they only lead to a grated exit. He returns to the tank and lays in the filth, contemplating his wrongdoings in life. While most of the rest of the time and screen time is spent inside the tank, the movie never really puts together a genuine sense of claustrophobic fear that would come from being trapped in a tank with nothing but crap and bloated bodies floating around. Most of the scariest imagery of the film comes from Jacks’ delirious dreams and hallucinations, not the situation itself. He is then eventually found and harassed by two brothers who are living in a storage closet in the facility. The little guy is temperamental and only speaks in grunts and squeaks, but mostly just sends the giant mentally challenged brother to taunt Jack and shower him constantly with bodies and body parts.
As Jack spends day after day trapped in the tank, he starts losing his mind and starts to mutate slowly. That’s the natural flow of disease, anyways right?
Step One: Violent dysentery
Step Two: Zombie apocalypse
Step Three: Mutation???
Step Four: WTF??!!
For as many strange and unexplained changes in the theme and idea of plot direction, the cinematography in the movie is wonderful, and the sound and most of the lines are well done. There’s even an homage to Mr. Blonde from Reservoir Dogs. There are genuinely funny parts in the movie, but no amount of heart can fix a movie that has no direct plot that gets so easily lost in itself. The ending leaves a lot to be desired, and doesn’t resolve a single damned thing. Why are guys hiding in the water treatment plant murdering the shit out of people left and right in a TOWN THAT IS EMPTY?? Why is the governor that is covering up the whole mess such a terrible actor?? Why did they use the rats from the Princess Bride in this movie???
If you are looking for lots of puke, poop and glorified dismemberment, this is your Citizen Kane. If you are into story and plot line, you’ll probably end up as confused as I was. But don’t eat anything while watching this, trust me.
3.5 Dead Princess Bride Rats out of 10.