Glasgow FrightFest 2020: Butt Boy
Director: Tyler Cornack
Writers: Tyler Cornack & Ryan Koch
Starring: Tyler Cornack, Tyler Rice, Shelby Dash
Middle-aged Chip Gutchell is bored and miserable with his life, until he has a prostate examination and his whole world changes. For he becomes obsessed with putting anything and everything up his butt including living things. Newly sober Detective Russell Fox suspects his AA sponsor is sporting another supernatural dimension in his rear end but even he has no idea the insanity that awaits when he dives into his investigation headfirst.
C. A cat-and-mouse detective/criminal story where the criminal sucks things into his butt. It’s the kind of story you’d make up with friends for a laugh and that’s as far as it’d go. Butt Boy took that idea seriously and turned it into a feature film. At many moments you can feel this ridiculous concept being stretched thin to fill the time needed to make it a feature. The 10-minute intro which then jumps to “9 years later,” seems like a suitable cut-off point because “how can you take this thing further after suggesting the man shoved a baby up is butt?” This is a flaw within the plot’s already-absurd logic, trying to pay it off in the end, only to feel tacked on as a ploy to connect us more to the protagonist’s emotional arc… it doesn’t… it feels forced. The major issue is the movie’s science. *Now I know the other members of Bloodhound Pix will probably make a joke as it is a topic that I discuss quite frequently. When I say “science” I don’t mean scientifically accurate but rather the story’s logic within the world that’s been built. Even the most surreal stories from Lynch to Jodorowsky to Tim and Eric have a grounding, have rules to what is or isn’t possible within their world. Butt Boy feels like it would’ve thrived from a couple more drafts. Traditionally you say the positives first and then get into the criticism. While the criticisms I had were significant, I’m going to stop there because ultimately this movie is one to have admiration for. It would’ve been easy for them to make a normal cat-and-mouse serial killer thriller that we’d review, mention the multiple films that did it better, and forget about in a month. There’s this fear among up-and-coming filmmakers that they just want their project seen so many times they may piggyback off of another’s success (I can die happy never seeing another killer clown flick) However, Butt Boy swung for the fences and provided us something unique and unforgettable that you have to respect. Much like last year’s Here Comes Hell I don’t want to give too much away, not to spoil the plot but rather spoil the experience. While the acting and technical quality are fine, the beauty of it lies in how it takes itself completely seriously. There’s so much potential for gags or some form of 4th-wall-breaking to make sure you know they’re in on the joke. Instead it’s played normal and this directorial decision is what proves to be something worthy of rising to the top of this year’s roster.
J. So concept wise, this is ludicrous as all hell and Chip is sort of like a serial killer in a way but it’s always interesting and kooky and off kilter. The actors are terrific and it turns into this weirdo sort of pulpy noir thing that I never would’ve expected but somehow or another it all works pretty well. The two lead actors have a supremely odd relationship first through AA and then as detective and serial butt play suspect. This was a unique and highly entertaining romp about a man sticking things up his ass and had one of the most out there conclusions I ever would’ve imagined. If you read and like Chuck Palahniuk, you’ll most likely be enamored with Butt Boy. K. Full disclosure, I was expecting this to suck based on the title and premise. Boy, was I wrong. From the opening scene Butt Boy shows its competency, setting up a painfully enthusiastic corporate workplace reminiscent of Office Space, and our protagonist Chip Gutchell (Tyler Cornack), the titular Butt Boy. Chip hates his job and his marriage is on life support. After his first prostate exam he decides to try some backdoor action and this leads him into a downward spiral of sorts (i.e. he starts shoving larger and larger things up his butt, graduating from remotes to dogs to...babies). Then we skip ahead 9 years, Chip is on the wagon, attending AA meetings and just not letting anyone in on his true addiction. He becomes the sponsor for Russell Fox (Tyler Rice), the living embodiment of a 1970s movie cop, and when Chip relapses a cat and mouse kicks off between the two of them. By now this must sound pretty damn ridiculous, and it is, but it’s played fairly straight and the narrative is surprisingly engaging, and the style is supremely cinematic. I never thought I’d say this, but I loved Butt Boy. It takes its story and its characters seriously, but never itself. The actors, especially Tyler Cornack and Tyler Rice shine, knowing how to imbue their characters with humanity despite the increasingly odd circumstances. Double kudos to Tyler Cornack who also co-wrote the screenplay, with Ryan Koch, and directed the film. Ultimately, it’s a satisfying dark comedy that takes bold risks with its ideas and subject matter, and I wish there were more films this bold.
C. There’s a reason why a Tim and Eric episode was only fifteen minutes. On paper Butt Boy is one of those projects that shouldn’t work as a feature and there’s plenty within the final product that proves this. Not discussing the ridiculous plot but there are elements within the movie that feel forced, filler and cheap to fabricate an emotional depth. A man sucking things into his butt? I can get behind that (pun intended I guess). Forcing the cold case connection between the two driving characters? That’s where it starts to feel lazy. Unlike last year’s Here Comes Hell, there’s more clarity to which elements are purposefully bad/budgetary issues vs. flaws in execution/storytelling. Having time in between our initial reaction and then responding to each other, I’ll find sometimes I start to like something more, the same, or less. Unfortunately for this movie time has allowed for certain negatives to stick with me. Now, getting that out of the way and acknowledging the justified concerns that viewers may have, I still love it on some strange, giddy level. It is exceptionally better than it has any right to be and (agreeing with Kyle) is the festival’s hidden gem. Butt Boy stands out in its originality and that’s something I’m more than happy supporting. J. About the only response I have to this film is that it has stuck with me in various ways and not really any of it has to do with the butt stuff. I find that fascinating and a little strange at the same time much like this film is. It really shouldn’t work but it mostly does and I applaud the hell out of it for being so “out there” and pulling off something centered around a man’s cavernous ass. K. Easily the biggest surprise of FrightFest. Seems we’re all (mostly) in agreement again. Acknowledging Craig’s criticisms of the sketch-turned-feature, I agree to an extent and I see where he’s coming from. But I also appreciate seeing something new and different and not knowing exactly where something is going, which this film constantly provided. All things considered, it’s a really impressive debut and I look forward to seeing what these filmmakers come up with next. Bloodhound’s average score: 4 out of 5