A lot of you have probably seen the opening of this film floating around on the internet lately. (I have added this scene below.) If you haven’t seen it, it is a foul piece of nastiness. If you have seen it, you’ve probably been excited like me to see more. Unfortunately, that is the best part of the film.
I do have to give this film some credit for an interesting story, but I think this could have been pulled off better as a TROMA film. TROMA has a reputation of pushing all taboo subjects to the extreme in a campy and darkly comedic way. Think: The Toxic Avenger. Septic Man isn’t supposed to be a comedy, but it should have been.
A town’s water supply becomes contaminated in the worst way imaginable; full of contagious diseases, so disgusting that the town must be evacuated. A “town council” asks Jack, the septic man, to stay behind to figure out the source of this deadly problem. His pregnant wife worries about his health and safety but reluctantly leaves town without Jack.
A couple things that bothered me as the plot developed was the fact that Jack has mysteriously gone all this time without being affected yet. He wades around in this shitty water still totally healthy while people in town are dropping like flies. Another issue I have is the completely elementary dialogue. The scene when Jack and his wife are arguing is hard to watch seriously with the way that they talk to each other.
I tried to look past those flaws though when my excitement was reignited when Jack starts navigating the sewer system. The setting lends for a dark and creepy atmosphere set below the earth amongst the sewer pipes. You can imagine the nausea produced from such a foul smelling location and Jack swimming around in fecal water is beyond disgusting.
I’m going to give some spoilers here so read on only if you don’t mind. While searching around the sewers, Jack finds a large pipe stuffed with dead and rotting bodies. Here is the source -these bodies have been backing up the water supply. Jack runs into a couple a demented characters, who seem to be our body dumpers. Interesting characters? Sure. Unfortunately, there are a LOT of unanswered questions regarding these killers. I’d rather watch Shadow (2009) for a better cave-like killer. Anyway, they lock Jack in a sewer hole while they continue to do their business. He is down there for an undetermined amount of time, but long enough to be infected-his skin boiling and blistering and falling off.
The soundtrack keeps the film at a fast-paced frantic feel, but then the second half of the film is very stagnant with Jack trapped in one area. The tension building is lost. The film takes an unlikely turn with ethereal, dream-like sequences as Jack starts to lose his mind due to disease and isolation. I find it silly that Jack continues to yell for help when he is below the earth in a town with mandatory evacuation; and how his pregnant wife stumbles upon his exact location is beyond me.
The film leads you to believe that there could be a sequel, something that I have mixed feelings on. I keep going back and forth on this film. There are a lot of flaws that are unforgivable, but then there always seems to be a tiny shining ray of light amongst all the mess. It’s definitely not the worst movie I’ve seen but it is still far from good.
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