Sunday, November 20, 2011

REVIEW: The Taint (2010)

The Taint achieves what by now seems impossible: it pushes splatter to previously unthinkable levels of gore and tastelessness. This is exactly why it deserves your attention. It might be that everything worth doing has been done to death at this point, but just when you think we’ve hit bottom, there’s someone down there scraping away at the muck. Drew Bolduc and Dan Nelson have worked long and hard to produce this slimy little diamond in the rough.

Why not just bypass all the semi-concealed themes in the post-apocalyptic infection scenarios - you know, society keeps people in check, and removing social order via a plague, zombies, etc. allows the non-infected to act out suppressed fantasies… The Taint cuts out the middleman and imagines a mutagen that turns all men into raging misogynists who want nothing more than to kill women. The protagonist seems to exist only because movies are supposed to have one, and we need some reason to jump from gag to gag and flashback to flashback. Don’t go in expecting much continuity, or even much of a story. The Taint is really nothing more than a series of gore-based set pieces, but you can’t fault it for doing one thing if it does it really well.

Misogyny and homoeroticism go hand in hand, and there’s tons of both here. It was really a great move when you think about it - anyone who’s going to revel in the macho violence a little too much is likely going to be caught off-guard by the guy-on-guy wrestling or the ever-present short shorts and crotch shots. The only thing that outnumber the dick jokes in this film are the dicks themselves, all destined to be destroyed in various fashions. But for every sophmoric attempt at humor, there’s something clever - it’s humor by attrition, and it comes out on top in the end.

The film’s greatest weakness is the acting, or the lack of it. Acting (or even having characters) clearly isn’t the focus of the film, so just don’t expect it. At best, the lines are delivered with barely contained smirks, and the suppressed irony threatens to boil over, but only actually does a couple times. (Did we really need a that’s what she said joke in the middle of a montage parody?) Still, it’s clear that the film doesn’t have much spite for the tried and true post-apocalyptic formula, it’s just carrying it to an ultraviolent extreme.

I’m more tolerant of films when they’re labors of love as opposed to cash grabs churned out by big studios. Also, chainsaws, tons of head-crushing, and lots of practical effects don’t hurt. Did I mention how great the soundtrack to this film is? When you add up the numbers, there’s just too much to like here to let the flaws overshadow what the film does well. This is the best and most entertaining low/no-budget film I’ve seen since Mold! and I hope Bolduc and Nelson use it as a springboard to move on to bigger projects.

7/10 = Worth checking out

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