Toronto After Dark 2013 Review: Septic Man

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Septic Man takes place in a small, Canadian town that is being evacuated due to a contaminated septic tank that is threatening to infect the local populace. Soon, the only one (apparently) left is Jack, a sewage worker offered the princely sum of $200,000 to rid the town of its disgusting problem, an offer he would probably have turned down if not for the fact that his wife has a baby on the way. He soon becomes trapped inside the septic depths he was sent in to clean, and as be becomes increasingly mired in filth, also begins to undergo a revolting transformation. While Jack may be in the process of becoming a monster, he also discovers that he is far from alone in the hellish sewers beneath the town.

While most horror films rely on a relatively narrow range of bodily fluids to shock their audience, Septic Man is not afraid to wade into the even more gross end of the pool: vomit, piss, and especially shit feature prominently in the film, saturating the celluloid so intensely that you can almost smell it. In such putrid surroundings, it seems perfectly feasible that Jack would find himself infected, and begin to become as corrupted as his environment. The makeup and practical effects are intensely convincing, to the point of being stomach-churning.

While the immediacy of the film is where it excels, the overall structure seems to wallow in sludge along with the protagonist. Victim of one of the great challenges of confinement horror, Septic Man drowns in the depths of isolation, and the middle part of the film drags. The arrival of other characters in Jack’s septic nightmare, the tormenting Giant and the especially villainous Lord Auch, revitalizes the film; the monster festering in the sewers finally has something to fight. Reveling in its own grotesquerie, Septic Man at once pushes the envelope of disgusting absurdity while maintaining a serious, if soiled, narrative face.

Is Septic Man essential Toronto After Dark viewing?

If you’re looking to experience a kind of disgust beyond the typical blood-and-viscera gorefest, Septic Man offers an entirely different palette of revulsion. If you have no stomach for the abject, or for uneven pacing, this is definitely not for the squeamish.

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