All Jacked Up and Full of Worms
Two men struggling through emotional low-points snort and eat hallucinogenic worms and descend into a drug-fueled nightmare.
This proves a difficult review. Writer-director Alex Phillips proffers an earnest and accomplished-for-its-budget feature built around David Lynch style elliptical plots, Cronenbergesque body horror, and a grit and grime reminiscent of Abel Ferrara. All things I love.
But good artists copy, great artists steal. The film’s biggest failure lies in its inability to amount to more than the sum of its influences. Phillips demonstrates ample formal muscle and coaxes a fearless performance from Trevor Dawkins as an outcast with symptoms of manic schizophrenia, but the underlying exploration of self-loathing lacks any resonant insight.
It’s not without potential. Phillips flashes moments of comedic brilliance, like when one character tries the worms and comments, “Oh, it’s got a zip to it.” And there’s a glee about the gore reminiscent of early Peter Jackson. The finale sees a disemboweled character’s intestines rear up like giant phallic worms and attack, choking the aggressors until said aggressors’ heads explode and spray green goop everywhere.
Perhaps I’m expecting too much. Your mileage may vary, but I look forward to seeing what Phillips does next and hope a distinct voice emerges, as it proves the lone missing ingredient.