Stars: Jason David Brown, Julian Richings, Robert Maillet, Molly Dunsworth, Timothy Burd, Stephen McHattie, Nicole G. Leier | Written by Tony Burgess | Directed by Jesse Thomas Cook
Some films are just crap, but Septic Man is literally about it. In the first few minutes you may get to see a lot of human waste, but if truth be told if the movie has a bigger problem than that… it may be slightly constipated.
Jack (Jason David Brown) is a sewage worker who is known to be good at his job. When government official Phil Prosser (Julian Richings) gives him an offer he can’t (or isn’t) allowed to refuse he finds himself investigating problems in the city water system which are leading to a plague of diseases, even death. When he finds the source though he finds himself trapped in the water treatment facility at the mercy of two strange brothers intent on killing him.
Septic Man is written by Tony Burgess, the same guy who gave us Pontypool. It’s fair to say that his style of horror brings something different to the genre. It is clear in Septic Man that this is what he is attempting to do too, even if it is flawed.
Instead of being high in action what we have in this movie is a more physiological look at a man trapped in human waste slowly being taken over both physically and mentally by the disease and death around him. If anything it feels like an origin story for the character, but it never reaches its true potential. This is a common problem with the film because while story elements are added they never reach fruition for the audience. Each story strand seems to just hang there waiting for something to happen.
What is impressive is the special effects in the movie, especially the makeup on Septic Man himself. The gradual infection that Jack goes through is gradual, but most importantly grossly realistic. While I didn’t find it bothering me too much, I think I’ve watched enough gore to be desensitised to this kind of thing, but I’m sure it will turn quite a few stomachs. This can also be said about the first few minutes of the film. If you can make it through that though you should be able to handle what you see.
While Septic Man may not find its footing in story terms, there is something about it that does keep you watching. If anything this is to see if the story will finally find some much-needed pace. With good performances by Jason David Brown, Molly Dunsworth and Julian Richings they do tend to keep your attention and seeing Stephen McHattie appears sporadically as the Mayor on television is a nice cameo.
Septic Man’s weakness is the fact that Jack is trapped and so is the movie. There is no escape for him throughout the film, though there are chances which are not taken. Even when Giant (Robert Maillet) one of the murderous brother’s attempts to look to him for help, even this does not feel like it reaches a conclusion. This is a shame, because if more had been made of it then the pace of the film may have sped up some.
I can understand what was attempted with Septic Man, but the problem is that it just never makes that last leap to fulfilling what it could be. Maybe if there is a sequel we’ll see his further adventures but for now, we wait and wonder why the film was trapped in its own hell for so long, just like Jack.
Septic Man is available on DVD in the UK now.