Directed by Jesse Thomas Cook
Written by Tony Burgess
Starring Jason David Brown, Molly Dunsworth, Robert Maillet, Julian Richings
83 mins - Horror - Release date: 15 August 2014
Imagine for a moment that you work a crappy job, literally. You’re a septic man and you’re elbow deep in other people’s bodily waste on a daily basis. You’re also married with a baby on the way. Now, you’re not struggling to make ends meet, but you aren’t exactly going to retire on a pile of money any time soon. One could argue that your situation is better than a lot of other people’s, but you still want to be a better provider for your family.
That’s essentially a description of Septic Man’s lead character, Jack. However, when a water contamination threatens his community and forces an evacuation, he’s presented with an offer that he can’t refuse from a mysterious man, Phil Prosser (Julian Richings). That offer includes $20,000 upfront and $180,000 later, but it also requires Jack to stay behind in the contaminated community to solve and fix the water crisis.
Why Jack? Well, first of all he’s the community’s septic man and has been a silent hero on more than one occasion. Second, considering his job and his exposure to certain vile liquid conditions, it’s remarkable that he hasn’t become infected and ill himself.
As a man wanting a better life for his family, Jack accepts the offer — even if it pisses off his wife to no end. The question then becomes, is Septic Man a cautionary tale about greed? Or is it a comment on the shitty lengths the government will go to cover up and flush the pipes clean in order to avoid the greater responsibility? You can decide for yourself which it is.
Septic Man opens with a grotesque scene in which a woman is in the most vile bathroom you’ve ever seen; the filthiest roadside service station restroom in America could never compare. What’s the woman doing in there? Let’s just say that she’s having a hell of a time as her body voids itself from wherever it can. As staged as the scene is — because this is a movie — the look and the effects are absolutely believable. It’s a great way to open the movie, and it’s a great way to show the severity of the contamination the community is facing.
From there we meet Jack, see him accept the offer to stay behind during the evacuation, and then his ultimate entrapment in the sewer system. As Jack muddles around in near darkness to find a way out he finds the source of the contamination, and it all gets pretty disgusting. And even though it was hinted at that Jack was possibly immune to whatever is plaguing the town, he eventually succumbs to the infection and undergoes a terrible transformation.
Even though Jack isn’t exactly alone down in bowels of the town, and even if his physical transformation is grotesque, the most compelling thing to see is his psychological breakdown as Jack’s mind does whatever it can to survive. So, yes, Septic Man is ultimately a character study.
If your stomach can handle some pretty disgusting biological waste, then you should see this “shitty” movie. There’s some gore, but Septic Man is in large part a drama. It’s also a man-in-a-suit film, and it’s left open for a sequel. While there’s something for everybody in this movie, Septic Man might only truly appeal to genre fans.