Review Roundup - Disco Nightmare

THE GREASY STRANGLER (2016)


There's no way to avoid saying it, this is a pretty weird release. Everything about it has been purposely chosen to feel odd or off the wall in some way, whether it's the gaudy pink outfits or the spoken rhythm of almost every character. Mixing comedy, horror and high levels of strange and grotesque imagery, the story of a father and son love triangle is surrounded by all kinds of slimy, disgusting moments. Of course this all takes place during the reign of a serial killer, the eponymous strangler. Is Brayden's dad Ronnie covering his naked body with grease before going out to murder people that have mildly annoyed him? The answer of course is yes. Does this joke have enough to sustain a feature length running time? Well, we'll see.

Big Ronnie is a bit of an eccentric. He runs a 'disco tour' with his son, showing clients such sights as the derelict building doorway in which he claims the Bee Gees came up with the lyrics to Saturday Night Fever. This and other dubious claims are made throughout the film as he tells tales about meeting stars and living a wild life in night clubs. He also demands that every meal he eats should be dripping with oil and grease, whether it's Brayden's cooking or food from local street vendors. Which is totally unrelated to the strangler deaths of course... His son is far more reserved, living away from his mother who has found a new partner. Ronnie takes pleasure in frequently tormenting him all the while threatening to evict him if things aren't exactly has he likes. But soon Brayden falls for Janet, one of their customers, and a rift begins to grow.

This basic plot outline sums up the main events, but there's a lot of other more bizarre material to try and run through here. Almost every character is strange in some way or another, whether it's the central duo, their friends or their customers. They all seem to speak in an unnatural way that creates the sense that everyone involved is an amateur or perhaps just a passer by who was roped into the production. The script itself adds to this weird atmosphere, and many of the scenes follow the same pattern of a normal discussion between people which quickly devolves into repeated phrases, whether it's when they shout insults at one another, or tourists trying to demand free drinks from their guides. Adding to this the music seems to be a series of two or three electronic notes that keep being recycled in different tones depending on the scene.

A lot of these moments are pretty funny whether it's just being randomly silly or overtly repugnant. Janet is soon seduced by Ronnie who is 'a smoothy' with the ladies. In reality he wears a purple disco dancing outfit with a transparent crotch area, but at this stage nobody will argue with the film's internal logic. There are so many over the top sequences whether it's the childish foul language, the sex and nudity, or the cartoony deaths of the strangler's victims. It's often an assault on the senses (and I imagine sensibilities, for some) although it's never taken seriously at all. The father and son bicker, weird drama dialogue is spoken, the death toll rises, then after walking naked through a car wash to remove all the grease Ronnie goes home to start this all over again.

It's this level of repetition that starts to drag things down as the story progresses, and it's clear that this was just a silly joke at one stage which has been stretched out to feature length. The shock value and silly novelty factor soon starts to dwindle, and it's something that I feel would have been stronger as a short film or a vignette in a more varied film release. Since nobody acts like a human being it's impossible to engage with the material after a while, and though it's often pretty amusing there are points at which the outrageous elements become dull. Only so much of this works before it makes you numb to the experience. There's nothing quite like this around of course, and fans of cult cinema are sure to get some entertainment value from it. But it is a limited amount.

3/5

BONUS REVIEW
JASON BOURNE (2016)


After the pointless fourth part of the trilogy with Jeremy Renner, this series was pretty much done. As of course it should be; the original trilogy had a nice finale. Despite lacking exposition in those closing moments, in a way it was a case of less being more. The Bourne Legacy's addition was that silly virus plot, so knowing more was certainly something I'd rather forget about, amnesia style. But here we are with another addition to this now baggy feeling series. Despite the return of Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass, this still feels like an unnecessary sequel which adds only a passing amount of detail to the troubled CIA killer's back story. It in no way fleshes out his behavioural training, and it certainly doesn't do anything new in terms of action and espionage thrills.

In fact it's pretty dull overall, and new antagonists played by Alicia Vikander, Tommy Lee Jones and Vincent Cassell feel dry and uninteresting. In fact nobody in the cast seems that interested in being here. The storyline attempts to be topical with the idea of social networking being in bed with government agencies, but this comes off as awkward and tries too hard to be relevant instead of making sense as something Bourne would come into conflict with on a personal level. Even the fights and chases are too brief to be noteworthy, and nearly all the action is left until the very last section of the story. It feels tired instead of exciting, and everyone involved should have just moved onto fresh projects instead of come back just to go through the motions.

2/5