Due to an unforeseen pandemic, this year’s cinematic offerings have been slim pickens. The year’s most anticipated blockbusters have been delayed, forcing both avid moviegoers and cinephiles alike to sift through streaming services and videos on demand in hopes of filling that void. And if you’re like me, you’ll either just end up spending hours on something to find or finally settle on watching that docuseries your friends have all been tweeting about. Fortunately this week, there’s actually something available to watch that I think is worth everyone’s time, and that also might actually be so ridiculous that it’s brilliant. I am, of course, referring to Butt Boy, and before you even let the title deter you I ask that you try not to be so cheeky.
Directed by relative newcomer Tyler Cornack, this film exudes everything ‘80’s. Between its synth score and stylistic set design - which we’ll explore more later - you can tell Cornack has a very clear vision. While he mostly draws a heavy influence from the aesthetic of 1980s detective fiction films, he also injects a healthy dose of innovative ambiguity. When something happens, we don’t always know what it means immediately. Cornack takes pride in letting the film play out and showing the audience what’s happening gradually as opposed to constantly telling us. In fact, at some of the film’s most crucial moments - especially the very beginning - there is minimal dialogue.
Above all, the most impressive feat I think Cornack accomplishes as director is simultaneously acting as the film’s antagonist and titular character, Butt Boy.
After a man discovers that he has the power to shove things up his butt without consequence, he continues to try and test his limit, until one day he takes it too far. He stops, joins Alcoholics Anonymous to tame his addiction, and becomes a sponsor to a cop who’s trying to sober up. Then one day, that same cop gets assigned to a missing child’s case and enters a rabbit hole that leads him to suspect his sponsor’s somehow responsible.
Now, even with this incredibly detailed synopsis I promise you I am not spoiling this film. Even though it may draw similarities to other cat-and-mouse thrillers, there are several twists and turns that you will never see coming. The entire third act is something that I was especially taken aback by, but I still loved it.
In addition to it being modeled as a crime drama, there’s also a lot of comedy. As much as it pays homage to detective films, it also pokes fun at them too. The film’s protagonist specifically does a great job at being serious at all times, playing it straight even when the script calls for some of the characters to say and do some ridiculous things.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Tyler Rice plays said protagonist, Detective Russel Fox, and he shines in this film. While playing the hard-boiled detective running away from his past, he also plays against type. With so much ambiguity in this film though, surprisingly the one thing it’s not ambiguous about is Fox. He acts like he doesn’t care about anything, but we know from interactions that we’re shown that there are some things he does care about. He just knows when to show it and when not to. Rice, like the story, unfolds the character as time goes on and also contributes to the story’s ultimately shocking revelations.
As mentioned before, Tyler Cornack wears multiple hats as the director and star (he also co-writes and co-produces the music), and it’s equally as impressive just how he’s able to deliver such a complex character in addition to managing the film. Chip Gutchell a.k.a Butt Boy is the film’s antagonist, yet we see everything that he does - not just the sinister. For everything he shoves up his butt, there’s a meaningful interaction between him and his wife or him and his son or even a moment of self-reflection where we see who he really is. His ability is also portrayed as an addiction which feeds into the idea that he might not have any control over what he does, but despite his intentions, it’s his inability to stop that makes him dangerous. Cornack’s understanding and portrayal of that is what makes the character just as much fun to watch as Fox.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
It only makes sense that Cornack’s co-produced synth score also contributes to that vibe because as mentioned before this is his baby.
The sound design works hand in hand with the practical effects to deliver the film’s most memorable sequences including the unforgettable third act. Even the lack of sound helps to amplify tension throughout the film. One of the best examples of this is right before we see Gutchell in action for the first time. Gutchell takes the phrase, “silent but deadly,” to a new level.
A lot of the film’s special effects are practical, yet I’d argue they are some of the best practical effects I’ve seen in a film in a long time. There also aren’t a lot of them; I can count the sequences that use effects on both of my hands, yet each one is well done. The film goes for quality over quantity. As a matter of fact, one of the best sequences containing practical effects is the one where we finally witness how Chip uses his butt. It’s hilarious, but it’s also incredible to see how little CGI seems to be used in the scene.
The film’s set design is also something I admired because of how ambiguous it was, while simultaneously capturing the feel of an 80’s film. As mentioned before, the film oozes an 80’s aesthetics between the clothes, the sets, and the cars, but the ambiguity is maintained by the fact that we don’t know where we are exactly. None of the characters use cell phones either, and the internet seems irrelevant. It all adds to the story by making it feel more self-contained.
"In One F***king Second All Your Problems Are Just...Gone."
Who knew a film about a guy who sucks things about his butt could be so good? Butt Boy is a rare film in every sense of the word. Between its distinguished plot, nostalgic aesthetic, and stellar performances, it’s a love letter to one of the greatest decades and one of the greatest genres of all time. Complete with the callbacks to Sam Raimi’s rich black comedy and John Carpenter’s crafty body horror, this is an inevitable cult classic, and I’m not gassing you up.