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October 24, 2013

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MES screens the ultimate in stomach trouble, “Bad Milo!”

THE LONGER I WATCH MOVIES, THE MORE convinced I am that truly bad ideas are few and far between.  Some movies are executed poorly, some movies are poorly funded, some movies miss out on greatness by bad writing, bad acting, etc.  But in general, most ideas are sound and have immense possibility. 

Every film deserves a chance.  “Sharknado” might have been excellent in the hands of a skilled director. Kevin Smith (“Clerks”) is currently writing a horror film about a man being slowly turned into a walrus by a mad surgeon.  I’d watch that movie in a heartbeat. Never dismiss a film just because it sounds weird. Mise En Scenester’s main feature during their Frighting Ass Film Festival on October 26 is one of these strange films that need an audience with an open mind, because a movie about a man with a demon living in his colon sounds ridiculous on paper. Truth be told, it’s ridiculous on film. But it works surprisingly well due to a host of actors that commit to the story and a director that knows the story he wants to tell.  “Bad Milo!” is funnier than any mainstream Hollywood film released this year, in part because the subject matter is unique.

In many ways, “Bad Milo!” is similar to Mike Judge’s “Office Space.”  Both characters are unsatisfied with their jobs, both are fearful of their personal relationship, both have extreme reactions to stressful stimuli, both visit hypnotherapists. But whereas Peter Gibbons sees a competent one that turns off his stress before dying on the floor, “Bad Milo’s” Duncan (Ken Marino) sees a therapist that reveals the angry, pink, big-eyed, ball of teeth that has come to represent his anger.  On the horror side, “Bad Milo” is something of an homage to 1980s creature flicks like “Gremlins” and “Ghoulies.” It’s packed with the same dark silliness found in those pictures, which is certainly welcome in a time when most horror movies take themselves a little too seriously. This film uses an intestinal demon as a stand-in for violent reactions caused by unrelieved stress. It’s a little on the nose for a metaphor—but then this is a horror comedy and it’s not meant to be especially deep. Eventually, this tiny ball of suppressed rage begins to attack and murder the sources of Duncan’s stress. The film follows Duncan as he tries to control his inner demon and bring balance to his life. Again—not a high-brow concept, but in a film that features a cute abdominal goblin, the message is received rather well.

The film works, as I mentioned, because the cast commits to the premise so strongly. “Bad Milo!” features character actor veterans like Stephen Root and Patrick Warburton, as well as “Community”’s Gillian Jacobs, and relative newcomer Kumail Nanjiani, all of whom are masters of delivery and understatement. The jokes in “Bad Milo!” are solid. This isn’t a “Scary Movie” type of horror comedy, reliying on gross-out sight gags and one-liners based around current pop culture. It has a real story and that’s what makes it interesting. It varies the humor enough that we aren’t bored by the concept within a few minutes, instead of repeating the same joke or attempting to take down the genre as a whole.  It’s really surprising how competent the film is despite the absolutely absurd premise. Part of this might be due to the support of producer Mark Duplass, one of comedy’s current golden boys and star of “The League” on FXX. But mostly, this film goes to show that all ideas can be valid if they are developed well.

“Bad Milo!” is one of the films being screened  as part of the MES’s Frightening Ass Film Festival, which also inlcudes “Maniac” and “Spider Baby.” Tickets may still be available but are likely very limited. The festival also features music and comedy, a costume contest, and screenings of short horror movies by local filmmakers, which is a lot of scary entertainment for $15. If you do miss out on the festival, “Bad Milo!” is available for download on iTunes—you can make your own Halloween film fest at home.

MES Frightening Ass Film Festival,

2 p.m. – 12:30  a.m. Saturday, Oct. 26. Barking Legs Theater, 1307 Dodds Ave.

More information and tickets: mesfilmclub.com

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October 24, 2013

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