The Greasy Strangler
Whether we like it or not, the internet has changed how films are made. Thanks to increasingly cheap and accessible technology, anyone can make something and upload it to YouTube or Vimeo for others to see, at minimal cost. But this is both a blessing and a curse – a blessing for eager independent filmmakers, and a curse for the resulting saturation of content that has blighted online culture. As a result, many movie creators have gone to extreme lengths to prove that they are different and to get themselves noticed, to the extent that a casual viewer might find themselves baffled by what, exactly, they are seeing.
Jim Hosking’s The Greasy Strangler might have played at the Sundance Film Festival, but it is a self-consciously “weird” film, targeted at bored, online-savvy types who might be yearning for the guilty pleasures of a midnight movie. Its plot, even its premise, resists basic summarising: to say that it is about a son (Sky Elobar) who suspects that his father (Michael St Michaels) is a serial killer that soaks himself in grease and strangles his victims might suffice, though this says nothing of The Greasy Strangler‘s dance sequences, its fart jokes, its cartoon violence, or its many close-ups of the male member, both big and small.
All this might sound like the movie is fun. And for many, it will be. A basic test of this might be whether you’ve heard of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, aka “Tim & Eric”, and whether you enjoy their videos. Their anti-comedic aesthetic, from stilted line readings to an aural and visual celebration of disgusting food – essentially making a film “bad” by intention – is borrowed wholesale for Hosking’s offering, augmented with some Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker slapstick, and even a touch of John Waters.
But while the director’s madcap scenario might throw up the odd arresting image, or a funny line, it’s too self-conscious in its lunacy, trying too hard to be the next viral hit. Each scene is designed to provoke, to baffle, to instigate a frenzied word-of-mouth. The Greasy Strangler might have made a decent online short, yet at feature length, it grows dull very quickly, and pushes audience goodwill to its very limit. Some might even declare it the worst film of the year. It’s not. It’s just trying to be.
The Greasy Strangler is released in selected cinemas on 7th October 2016.
Watch the trailer for The Greasy Strangler here: