The Greasy Strangler Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
Released by Spirit Entertainment Limited
Directed by Jim Hosking
Written by Toby Harvard and Jim Hosking
2016, 93 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on October 10th 2016
Michael St. Michaels as Big Ronnie
Sky Elobar as Big Brayden
Elizabeth De Razzo as Janet
Gil Gex as Big Paul
Shacked up with his dad, middle-aged manchild Braydon lives a tragic life: lonely, ridiculous and ridiculed by his horrible old man, existing only to prepare his disgusting grease-laden dinners and assist him in the family business. One day, sultry sexpot Janet enters Braydon’s life, threatening to throw the father/son equilibrium well and truly out of whack. As Braydon begins to fall for Janet, the already unhinged Big Ronnie becomes more and more unstable… leading Braydon to suspect that his dad might be a serial killer. But not just any serial killer – beware, The Greasy Strangler!
Creator of the most memorable ABCs of Death entry to date (the glorious G is for Grandfather), one-to-watch director Jim Hosking doesn’t disappoint with his feature debut – The Greasy Strangler duly emerging as the most memorable movie of 2016. The tone and humour of G is for Grandfather inform this otherwise unrelated movie (although, I won’t lie, I did check IMDb to see whether it shared a lead actor – which it doesn’t), best described as a weird greasy merging of John Waters, Napoleon Dynamite, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and whatever mania inspires Hosking and co-writer Toby Harvard’s personal nightmares.
Whether it’s the story, script, actors, music or visuals, there’s nothing about The Greasy Strangler which is remotely conventional. As a horror movie, it’s too silly to ever be scary. As a comedy, there’s a pervading and unsettling atmosphere of grotesquery which makes it too troubling to be truly hilarious. There are few concessions to likeability or audience comfort, which may make The Greasy Strangler a hard sell. Traumatic male nudity (every penis in the film looks like a diseased mouse), greased-up sex sequences, painful ethnic stereotypes, fart jokes, purposefully bad acting, dragging jokes out for five minutes at a time (think the chicken fights in Family Guy) and some truly repulsive food-based scenes are but a little bit of what one should expect when settling down to watch The Greasy Strangler. In what has been a banner year for unconventional arthouse-style genre movies, it makes even The Neon Demon, High Rise or The VVitch look like studio boardroom-produced Transformers fare by comparison.
As such, it emerges as, if not one of the year’s best films, easily its most original. There are times where its refusal to behave and play normal make the facade more apparent, as though it’s trying a little too hard to be weird or edgy (‘hootie tootie disco cutie’ comes to mind, or any such joke which lasts for more than a minute), at which point the film does threaten to become a little tiresome… but it’s not long before the next shock or off-the-wall bit of weirdness has you back on side. Its actors commit to the conceit so totally that it’s hard not to go with it; be it the (one would assume) purposefully stilted and terrible Sky Elobar and Elizabeth De Razzo, or the genuinely great Michael St. Michaels as Big Ronnie. The only one who isn’t playing his role Napoleon Dynamite style, Michaels, is genuinely creepy as the grease-obsessed strangler – a genre creation for the ages.
But behind the grease and the strangling lies a surprisingly sweet story about a man breaking free from the shadow of his father, and the effect that has upon the nasty old bastard. Were it not for the explicit sex sequences and brilliantly creative swearing, there’s nothing here that couldn’t have passed for a more family-friendly 15 rating; it’s essentially Anchorman as told by The League of Gentlemen. All that, and a fart gag so well-delivered I laughed so hard it gave me a coughing fit and made me fall off the sofa.
Audiences will either love or loathe The Greasy Strangler, but that’s all part of the charm. Like a big, fat grease dinner, it looks repulsive and gets a little much after more than the one serving, but there’s no denying that it’s bloody delicious.