A$$holes @ Fantasia

assholes2When you are billed as one of the more disgusting films to be screened at Fantasia that leads to certain expectations. Now, I don’t know if I have a really high threshold for gross, but I have to say I was a little disappointed. Wasn’t really the level of gross I was hoping for. Yes, I did shrink down in my seat at the repeated close up visuals of the facial herpes (and the one scenes of genital herpes). I really am grossed out by herpes and these were large and crusty, so…But as for the rest (a$$holes and poop was pretty much the extent of it) of it there was not as much as I had hoped for.

That being said, director/writer/actor Peter Vack’s directorial debut was really an off the wall 74 minutes. Odd, odd, odd. Atypical, experimental and filled with one risk after another. And several times, in poor taste. The film debuted to much acclaim at this year’s SXSW winning the Adam Yauch Hornblower Award.

Adah (Betsey Brown – from television’s The Carrie Diaries) is trying to live her life sober. She is staying away from drink and drug while seeing a therapist. Besides the fact that she finds herself very lonely (her friends don’t understand her attempt at sobriety) and horny (no one seems to want to sleep with a sober person), Adah also has a ton of issues with her family. Especially her brother, Adam (Peter Vack – from television’s Mozart in the Jungle), who is plain English is a self-absorbed dick. All Adah wants is some attention from her sibling. Attention that does not come until she smokes up with him. So much for sobriety.

When leaving her therapist’s office she runs into her brother’s best friend, Aaron (Jack Dunphy – first film). One thing leads to another and they sleep together and do some poppers. Together they are a bad combo. Meaning that they bring out the darkest things about the other. For instance, Aaron is obsessed with anal sex. Soon they are playing out all their fantasies (no matter how depraved) will continuously stoned and both of their faces are covered in herpes.

Things get completely out of hand when their debaucherous gets so out of hand that they butt-birth (you read correctly) a demon named Mephistopheles (Eilleen Dietz – The Exorcist, Constantine). It gets grosser and weirder from here on in.

Everyone in the film, either literally (yep, it does go there) or figuratively, is an asshole. They either physically turn into one or behave like one. There is nothing subtle happening here. If you are an overbearing parent then you will be incredibly aggravating every moment, if you have herpes it will be the kind that seems to take over your entire face and if you are high then you will be uncontrollably high.

The centrepiece of the film (and its best moments) is when Adah and Aaron go on a drug fueled trip through Times Square in New York City. These scenes are alternately funny, sad and wild.

Boundaries in regards to what you can show and good taste are thrown out the window here. Instead it is a case of anything goes. The grosser the better. This film has been made with the goal of provoking the viewer and it is successful on that level.

Even though this is not a good film it is a brave statement by a young director. It is not afraid to go anywhere or to any lengths. Vack should be applauded for being able to talk his family (Betsey Brown is his sister and their parents in the film are their actual parents) into being in this film and they should be applauded (or have their heads examined) for starring in it.

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