“Wanna do worms?” It could be the tagline of this crazy Fantasia flick, or it could be the thesis statement of the whole film. You decide. Alex Phillips’ drug-fueled adventure has the look and feel of a crazy midnight movie and an absurdist comedy all rolled into one.
All Jacked Up and Full of Worms is a trippy comedy of misadventure that follows a handful of strange characters as they encounter one another and eventually all get high on worms. Benny (Trevor Dawkins) is a strange, somewhat off putting, yet simultaneously sympathetic man who desperately wants a baby. Eventually, he crosses paths with Roscoe (Phillip Andre Botello), a guy coming out of the latest drug trip with his girlfriend Samantha (Betsey Brown) and their roommate Jarod (Noah Tepawski). Roscoe has left their cramped apartment, in search of some space. A sex worker named Henrietta (Eva Fellows) eventually enters the scenario and gives everyone involved exactly what they needed - hallucinigenic worms.
As the core characters go about their various lives and intersect with more and more people, the worm trip spreads. Like ripples in a pond, the worms travel and are ingested by more characters with different desires and MOs. But if there is one certainty, it’s that the worms are always accepted with excitement, as if they can and will solve every problem that each of these characters has and set them on the right path (spoiler alert: that’s not exactly the case).
Throughout all of this, we see the film taking on various turns and changes in tone. One minute, it’s a strange comedy. The next, it takes on some darker horror themes. And after that, we’re back in a trippy, drug-fueled haze. It bounces back and forth, all the while examining themes of love, belonging and destruction. Though, not always with a tremendous amount of resolution. This is definitely one of those stories that is all about the ride, rather than the destination (though, I will add that the destination itself is kind of insane).
The film is thin on plot but big on visuals - especially as we get into the third act and things become more and more surreal. It’s one of those films that is either going to connect immediately and immerse you, or it’s going to leave you scratching your head, wondering if maybe the concessions staff put something weird in your popcorn. But even if the acid trip vibe isn’t your thing, the special effects from Ben Gojer and the production design from Ania Bista are absolutely eye-catching, and at times, incredibly disgusting. For better or worse, All Jacked Up and Full of Worms is never afraid to push boundaries.
Phillips has created a film that is going to be embraced whole-heartedly by some viewers, and rejected with frustration by others. It’s definitely not going to be everyone’s thing, but you can’t deny the heart and dedication that went into making it. If you’re a fan of grimy, drug-fueled adventures, this could very well be your next favorite.
Movie Score: 3/5