For some reason that Salt-n-Pepa song kept popping in my head as I was searching for a title for the review. So there, that explains it. Maybe you’ll get it now.
SEPTIC MAN, when I first heard about this film I immediately wanted to check it out. I posted on Twitter “I was gonna watch the shit outta of it and then review the shit out of it” not realizing the pun, but it was quickly pointed out to me by Twitter replies.
The opening scene had me hooked! Writer Tony Burgess and director Jesse Thomas Cook really did an amazing job setting up the movie with that scene. It was going to be a hard-edged, brutal ride. A girl in the nastiest bathroom on Earth is obviously infected with some sort of ailment that has given her lesions on her body, not to mention spewing fluids from every hole God has graciously given her. The obvious point here is, whatever she’s got, you certainly don’t want it.
The story follows a small town with some sort of water treatment issues causing residents to become horribly sick with almost every disease know to man and some unknown. Jack, the every-man, working a shitty job (pun) is your everyday septic guy. You know removing dead cats from pipes (he holds up a dead cat freshly pulled from a pipe “this is a first”). A mysterious man approaches him and offers Jack a shitload (pun) of money to stick around, as the rest of the town is evacuated, to find out the problem. Against Shelly’s (his pregnant wife) wishes, he decides the money will help support his wife and newborn child and takes on the task. During his investigation he finds an old water plant, falls into a large underground drainage, of filtering system (not certain which) with no way of getting out.
During his failed attempts to escape, two men at different times open the hatch, which turn out to be murderous brothers who are “squatters” at the plant, with no intentions of helping Jack. They instead continue to toss down corpses to Jack’s new home. Jack does fix the issue apparently, by removing some dead bodies from a pipe leading to the treatment facility (I’m assuming that’s how he fixes it, it’s vaguely explained). Between Jack’s struggles with the murderers, his mental state, and his deteriorating physical body, what will become of Jack’s fate?
I thoroughly enjoyed this film. Cook does a superb job of creating an isolated, dreadful, and mentally horrific situation. Not only does Jack have no hope of getting out, even when there are people within reach that could help, but won’t. But these same people are out to harm him if they could just get down in that hole. He has the physical deformities that are slowly transforming his body into a hideous creature, and the mental toll which is weighing on him. The mental breakdown is executed subtly and paced well. From Jack screaming for help, to excepting what he has become. He realizes even if he got out alive he would be nothing more than a damaged, shell of a man, a deformed creature.
Cook places flashbacks and hallucinations about what he cares about most within the film. Jack obviously cares most about his wife, Shelly and his soon-to-be child. This brings the viewer back to the emotional side of the story never allowing you to forget what he in fact lives for, the family he would have had and loved. This is what takes the film to another level, instead of a typical be movie, Toxic Avenger-style flick.
Though some of the movie is very dark and hard to see exactly what’s going on, one only needs to use their imagination to put these pieces easily into place.
Jason David Brown is just phenomenal as Jack. His role is like Tom Hank’s Chuck Noland in Castaway on crack. Instead of his volleyball friend Wilson, Jack has corpses to befriend and talk to to try and hang on to his sanity.
The end of the film both surprised me and shocked me. This is why I love indie horror films, no studios pressuring filmmakers for a happy ending. I can totally see SEPTIC MAN being a trilogy in my mind and I certainly hope this does happen, or we get to see what becomes of him next.
If you like slow-burners, great makeup effects, great acting, great visuals, great lighting, art in general, or just a lot of shit, this movie is for you!
This ones certainly one I’m adding to my collection to revisit in the near future.
SEPTIC MAN will be released on VOD August 12th and in select theaters August 15th from Starz Digital Media. Try and catch this one in the theater if you can!
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