With the bluray of Magnolia Films’ low-budget creature feature Bad Milo being released on January 21st; I thought it would be a good time to do a refresher review for the many that did not see it during its limited theatrical run.
I never thought I’d enjoy a movie about a demon that lives in a guy’s butt, but here we are. Oh, who am I kidding? I love this stuff!
The film follows the story of Duncan (Ken Marino), an everyman with a loving wife, Sarah (Gillian Jacobs), a stressful job and serious digestive problems which he’s been dealing with his whole life. He finally decides to get himself checked out by a doctor that believes he knows what the problem is. He tells Duncan to avoid stressful situations and choose his meals wisely until he can have minor surgery to correct his condition. Of course this plan falls apart completely when his terrible boss, Phil, (Patrick Warburton) makes him in charge of all company lay-offs the very next day. Along with other life issues, this immense amount of stress brings about another problem: there’s a demon living inside Duncan’s intestines that, when unleashed, murders anyone that has made life difficult for Duncan. And being that Duncan is a nice guy, you can imagine that he’s not too happy about having people slaughtered on his behalf. After some time he tries to bond with Milo, to tame him and hopefully make the murders stop. These scenes of the two characters are some of the best in the film. It was like a weird mash-up of Gremlins and The Odd Couple and I loved every second of it. Things don’t really go as planned and the turmoil that ensues is both hilarious and horrifying.
From the first time I saw the trailer for this movie I knew I had to see it. And I am so glad I did. A loving homage to 80’s horror-comedy classics like Basket Case, Ghoulies and It’s Alive, Bad Milo actually had me laughing out loud and really concerned for the film’s heroes. This is exactly what I look for in this sub-genre. I want to laugh at the jokes and be frightened by the scares. The practical effects were an absolute treat. Seeing an in-camera effect, like the puppet used for Milo, was one of the main reasons I had a blast with this movie. If it had been done with digital effects, the entire movie would have lost its charm. Actual fake blood and other practical gore effects were another highlight. During the first murder scene it does look as though digital blood was used and while very quick, it does not look as good as the rest of the film.
CGI absolutely has its place, but a film like this is not it.
A few months back I had a quick conversation on Twitter with the film’s director, Jacob Vaughn. I asked him if it had always been his plan to make Milo both cute and terrifying or if there had ever been a plan to play the monster more for scares. He told me that he always wanted Milo to be adorable one moment and vicious the next. I don’t think he could have done a better job with the little guy. He’s a near perfect character.
I also loved the casting in this film, especially Ken Marino and Peter Stormare as Duncan’s loopy psychiatrist; who is the first to realize what is really happening to him. My only complaint is the sub-plot involving Duncan’s dead-beat father, played by Stephen Root. This character takes things down a different path that didn’t quite work for me. It was played a little too seriously at first and mostly didn’t gel with the rest of the movie.
Overall, Bad Milo is a great horror-comedy. It has a wacky and sharp sense of humor, plays the scares well and even has a bit of heart to it. I’m excited to watch it again. It’s definitely not for everyone, but fans of films like the ones I previously mentioned should absolutely check this out.
Bad Milo is now available on Netflix streaming, as well as DVD and Bluray.