DIRECTOR: Flying Lotus
Pretty Ricki Fontaine
Events unfold after a devastating earthquake in Los Angeles.
There was a movie that was unleashed on audiences back in 2016 by the name of The Greasy Strangler. It was a film that divided critics and audiences alike. Cinema-goers either dug the gross-out comedy and horror of it all or it utterly repelled people. The hype train was travelling so fast that it almost came off the rails out of its festival run. People were talking about the movie like it was the next great horror classic. I sadly didn't get the hype. I didn't find much at all to love with that film.
I bring up The Greasy Strangler as a reference point because I believe that Kuso, is this year's version of that movie. A graphic, bizarre, and an utterly repulsive film that feels like it didn't have a redeemable quality to it. I will always champion filmmakers and movies that try to push the boundaries of cinema. Hell, John Waters is one of my all-time favourite directors. I also own an original out of print copy of Salo: The 120 Days Of Sodom on Criterion. So I'm all for having my limits tested, and boundaries pushed, but I just didn't get or enjoy Kuso.
Kuso is an anthology movie that is made up of many segments that revolve around the people that have survived a devastating earthquake that has rocked LA. It's only that this time around, every single segment is directed and written by the same two guys. So while there is a unique vision for each segment, the anthology is just two guys as opposed to a group of filmmakers coming in to write and direct five or six different short films. So these warped tales are all from the minds of just two men.
When it comes to those twisted tales that I speak of, I didn't find any of them really enjoyable. Completely unique and original but I just didn't get off on them myself. If I were to say anything nice about Kuso, it would be that you're unlikely to see anything quite like this movie. This is so entirely incomparable to anything else that I've seen in recent memory. It so weird that I imagine John Waters and David Lynch would say 'what the fuck did I just watch?'. I can at least see the originality here, and for that, I can't hate on it for trying to set itself apart.
Now we come to the content of the segments. Kuso was just gross and unpleasant to witness. This is a film that tries to throw as much sickening and nasty imagery at the audience, and I honestly found it disgusting. It achieves exactly what it sets out to do, and that was to turn my stomach. It succeeded in its mission. It's not so much gross in the horror sense, but everything just looks so repugnant. I wouldn't be able to sit here and say that this is a something you enjoy. It's a bizarre experience but one that I wouldn't want to relive again.
Every sort of taboo that you could ever imagine is in this movie. Every single bodily fluid is chucked on the screen. Nothing is off limits when it comes to sex and bodily functions. These segments use shit and semen like it's going out of fashion. It makes for a tough film to sit through. Watching a man penetrate what I can only describe as a woman's tumour that has morphed into a sex-starved creature that is attached to her body is like nothing else I've ever seen. Eating his semen at the end was enough to make me dry-heave. Don't even get me started on the prolapsed doctor shitting out a giant alien cockroach.
Another big issue that I had with Kuso is that I wasn't at all invested in the story that strings together all of the short films. The segments are so over the top and stomach-churningly gross that I kept forgetting that the central narrative revolves around this earthquake and is set in and around the Los Angeles area. There really doesn't have to be a consistent storyline as it's an anthology but a way to somehow bookend the stories without a song and dance and a thin paper plot may have made this oddity a little bit more cohesive and not so messy.
Lastly, we come to the acting. The acting is all over the place. While we have one or two actors, who have actually had careers appear in the film. We have a lot of actors I've never seen before, and that's where we get a lot of the uneven performances. I have to praise all of the cast for going to some of the places that they do in this film. It can't be easy being shat on even if fake. To get into that character's mindset must be a difficult one. With a lot of bodily fluids being sprayed around. I have to say that the entire cast goes to some really dark and disturbing places.
DEATH TOLL: 1
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A man fingers a bloody wound, and his finger is chewed off.
- A crayon is shoved into a man's pee-hole.
- A girl eats a cockroach.
- Fecal matter is wiped over a monster's tongue.
- Infections and pimples are popped.
- A fetus is ripped out and chucked at a woman's face.
- An eyeball flies out of a man's eye socket.
- An infected man is dragged off and blood splatters on the wall.
- A woman has intercourse with an alien tentacle.
- A guy is shat on.
- Someone vomits on someone else.
- A guy shits out a giant alien cockroach.
- A woman pulls a remote out of her vagina.
- Jizz is rubbed over someone's face.
- A woman is seen ripped in half and trying to crawl away.
- A man has a metal rod shoved into his pee-hole, and blood sprays out.
- A guy fucks a woman's tumour creature, and it eats his cum.
If I have one nice thing to say about Kuso, its that you'll never see anything quite like this movie. For those of you who are seeking out a surreal nightmare that pushes the limits of decency, you should enjoy it. As a fan of extreme cinema and gross and icky horror, I think I just didn't get this film. I went into this one with such high hopes and was sadly left underwhelmed. It was unpleasant, repugnant, and worst of all, a boring anthology horror that missed the mark. I do recommend watching it just to say that you've seen Kuso as I believe this will be one of those movies that extreme cinema fans will hunt down.