Review: Septic Man

2014/08/18 15:25:25 +00:00 | Monte Yazzie

The first three minutes of director Jesse Thomas Cook’s transformative Septic Man is literally a disgusting mess, and that’s just the beginning of things to come. Though more serious and dour than the playful tag line may lead towards, that being Shit Just Got Surreal, Cook’s transfiguring man is a makeup effect to witness. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t exactly know where to go narratively or just how much fun it should have with the messy conditions.

Jack (Jason David Brown) is sewage worker living in a small, middle-class town that gets evacuated due to a health concern. The symptomatic assessment involves everything implied with the title of the film. Jack is confronted by a government employee who offers him a large sum of money to continue working in the infected area. Married and with his wife expecting, Jack accepts to ensure his family is taken care of. Soon after, Jack is working in the sewage facility and discovers two hidden dwellers that trap him inside a rotten septic tank. The longer Jack stews in the room the more he changes into something terrible.

The screenplay penned by Tony Burgess, who also wrote the fantastic Pontypool, takes a serious tone with the changing man story found here. Jack is a recognizable character; a down on his luck man who makes a poor decision that is founded on good intentions. Eventually Jack’s decision turns bad in a nightmarish way when the muck he once worked in mutates him. While some films choose to move quickly through this transformation phase, Septic Man takes time to stay with the morphing character. Jack, trapped in his vile tomb, is confronted with death and an ultimate fate. Through failed attempts at escape and hallucinations of his wife, Jack’s methodical journey into madness is well documented in crude consequence. While Burgess may be attempting to hint at some sort of social awareness and Cook does well to utilize the claustrophobic space, too much time is spent watching and rewatching the lead character yell and crawl about uselessly. Some playfulness with the characters or humor to compensate the straightforward approach of the sickening effects could have helped in elevating the unusual creature and surrounding circumstances.

Jason David Brown gives a commendable physical performance as Jack, although the standout compliment for the film is the application of the special effects in mutating Jack into the Septic ManSeptic Man may not be a fun, or for some watchable, experience, but it does offer horror fans gross-out indulgence of a man turned monster amidst the most disgusting of elements.

Movie Score: 2/5