Septic Man Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
Released by Sharp Teeth Films
Directed by Jesse Thomas Cook
Written by Tony Burgess
2013, 83 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 11th January 2016
Jason David Brown as Jack / Septic Man
Molly Dunsworth as Shelley
Julian Richings as Phil Prosser
Robert Maillet as Giant
Timothy Burd as Lord Auch
Stephen McHattie as Mayor
With great power comes great res-poo-nsibility. When his entire town is evacuated and quarantined due to its dangerously tainted water, sewage worker Jack is tasked with staying behind to fix the problem. Unfortunately, Jack’s poo-fessionalism doesn’t extend to things like not falling into gigantic septic tanks. And so he becomes trapped, like a really stinky version of 127 Hours. Stuck in the septic tank of an abandoned sewage station in a (mostly) empty, quarantined city, a physical transformation begins within (and without) Jack, turning the man into some sort of avenger. A toxic avenger, if you will.
A man falls into a septic tank and turns into a poo monster! The second coming of Citizen Toxie this ain’t though, largely played with a straight face where the folks at Troma would have had a ball. It has its share of humour, but nothing as broad or daft as one might expect from a movie called Septic Man. Written by Tony Burgess, of Pontypool fame, it shares that film’s languid pace and bleak tone (Stephen McHattie, too), and is surprisingly downbeat, for a film about a man who falls in a septic tank and emerges half-man, half-turd monster.
Those with a sympathetic gag reflex may wish to give Septic Man a miss, spending half of its time, as it does, with Jack as he pukes and chunders throughout his (very extended) stay in the tank. Sometimes he even barfs directly onto the camera – and dingy and low-quality as the film may be, you will see chunks. Add to that a handful of dead bodies floating about in the sewage and we have all manner of grot thrown at the screen. It’s not all puking and toxic waste though; taunting Jack from outside the septic tank are a pair of crazed brothers, one cannibal, one cross between Andre the Giant and Lou Ferrigno. This gets us a third party for Jack to shout at and briefly fight, and one utterly bizarre sequence in which one of the brothers files the other’s teeth to sharp points before promptly being bitten by the little bastard. Neither gives Septic Man (he’s not really a superhero – poop-erhero? - though) the solid antagonist the film could do with, leaving us stuck with Jack and his sewage.
Not that Jack’s shite isn’t an interesting plight, but Septic Man has so many enticing ingredients that I couldn’t help but feel short-changed by what I actually got. Stephen McHattie, in barely a cameo (to be fair, the dude is probably expensive), a pair of great villains utterly wasted, Julian Richings also mostly wasted, and a septic tank set so good that Burgess decided he just had to set the whole film in there. It feels like the first half of a Septic Man origin tale rather than a standalone Septic Man story itself.
Still, the Septic Man we’ve been delivered isn’t to be sniffed at; the set design and makeup effects are excellent, giving off a real funk that’s up there with the best body horror on the market. Its villains are fun within the limited room they’re given to breathe, and Jason David Brown is a fine anchor as Jack. If I’m disappointed, it’s because I wanted to see more of this world and the filthy people who inhabit it. It’s a premise and characters I honestly hope to see revisited again soon by Cook and Burgess. Preferably with more McHattie.
Half-formed but perfectly solid, Septic Man is a bit of a turtle's head, but it’s also far from shitty.