Rated R - not for language, but for gratuitous violence
PSYCHO GOREMAN (2021)
What if E.T. was evil, and sent to Earth as a punishment for his crimes? Try not to think too hard because that’s essentially the premise of Shudder’s latest exclusive PG: Psycho Goreman. While it’s every bit as ridiculous as it sounds, it’s also crazy good fun.
Directed by Steven Kostanski, one half of the minds who brought us that Lovecraftian love letter The Void a few years back, it’s safe to say that the film's nightmarish visuals weren’t a one-off. Psycho Goreman not only continues to ooze Lovecraft’s influence, but it takes additional inspiration from both some of the best horror films and comedies of the 1980s too. That comparison to E.T. was no joke; however, the film is, and on some many levels.
Probably the best thing that Kostanski does is make this film a comedy because it makes all of the extremes all the more enjoyable. Whenever PG (Psycho Goreman) torments or kills someone, it’s not enough to show us their pain, Kostanski emphasizes their misery by drawing it out in for as long as possible. For instance, throughout the film there’s a recurring gag that it is more honorable to die by being eaten. As a result, there are several moments where just when you think PG is done, he’ll slowly devour his enemy. Once again, it sounds ridiculous on paper, but Kostanski’s execution and timing of it all is surprisingly perfect. You’d honestly think he has a background in comedy.
The film follows two kids: Mimi and...her brother. While I do remember his name, there’s a recurring gag in the film where PG can’t seem to remember his name. I’ll continue that here for the sake of continuity. Now, after Mimi and her brother find a mysterious amulet, they awaken a monster who’s been enslaved and buried on Earth for centuries. Despite his willingness to wreak havoc on all of those who wronged him after being awakened though, he discovers that he can’t. Because Mimi technically finds the amulet, she has complete control over the creature. This, of course, makes for some hilarious hijinks including giving him that eccentric name.
As much as I enjoyed this film, I do think that the way it opens will put some people off. It’s not that the beginning is hard to watch. The film just doesn’t hesitate to immerse you into what is basically a live action cartoon. It wasn’t until after the first 10 minutes or so that I was able to realize what was going and began to truly appreciate the film. Even if you have no idea what’s going on, or what to expect from this film, just know that the film totally pays off by the end.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
What I especially liked about the film is that even the smallest characters are given enough of a personality to provide the audience with a sense of who they are while they’re onscreen. The best example of this is the group of aliens that form a council to try and destroy PG after he awakens. While one of the council’s members comes to Earth to fight him head on, the others remain in space and become the sci-fi versions Statler and Waldorf watching the film’s events from a far and providing useless (yet hilarious) commentary along the way. Once again, while they aren’t around for too long, they still make their mark. The same can be said of every character in this.
My favorite thing about the film, by far, is the fact that not only does it follow PG and his interactions with the kids. We get to see him interact with the parents too. Rather than stick with the traditional trope in these types of films where the kids try to hide the monster from the parents, he meets them almost immediately, and the way in which he changes the entire family dynamic is yet another one of the film’s funniest aspects.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
For the most part, there’s a 50/50 split between digital special effects and practical ones. For its outer space sequences and flashbacks, the CGI visual effects are passable. The film’s practical effects are easily the most memorable though. While they also look cheesy at times, they’re cheesy in the best way possible. As mentioned earlier, this film is a clear callback to the sci-fi films of the 1980s. Even though some of the characters and effects look like something straight out of the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, that’s the point. As cheap as it looks, the aesthetic it creates for the film is priceless.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
One of my only complaints about the film, believe it or not, is the music. I honestly felt that the score, which was primarily made up of generic synths, could have used a little more variety. There are only two times in the film where I felt like the music was front and center. The first was in a sequence where it’s revealed that Mimi, her brother, and PG start a band (because why the hell not?). Unfortunately, it’s used as a set up for a montage, and part of me would have liked to see that explored more.
The second time the music steals the show is during the credits. PG gets his own rap; nevertheless, in the vein of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Why was it saved for the credits? I have no clue. While it is a highlight, I felt like it could have been a bigger one were it used during the film as opposed to when most people start to check out.
The best part about PG: Psycho Goreman though is that it’s rated R - not for language, but for gratuitous violence. Blood and guts aside, the R should stand for rare because of how hard it is to find a horror film that is so wholesome, let alone one that focuses on family. While most horror films try to be innovative by subverting the genre, this film does the exact opposite by leaning lovingly into the things that make all films great. The result is a bloody good time.
NOW STREAMING ON SHUDDER