The Greasy Strangler (4 stars)

The Greasy Strangler

Outrageous oddity from debut director Jim Hosking that has to be seen to be believed

Debut feature director Jim Hosking and his co-writer Toby Harvard have created a film so oily and disgusting you can almost feel your arteries clogging as you watch. From its opening scene in a filthy house in LA where 'disco tour' operator Big Ronnie (Michael St Michaels) asks his son Big Brayden (Sky Elobar) in a gravelly, aggressive tone, 'Why not put a little grease in your coffee?' it becomes apparent that the filmmakers have adopted that same sense of 'Why not?', as they attempt to push gross-out to its limits.

Andrew Hung from Fuck Buttons provides the electronic keyboard music which recalls the childlike melodies of Atom and His Package. That innocence is something that Elobar injects into his performance as Big Brayden and his strained relationship with his father. The two squabble and cackle from the start and what at first is perplexing becomes funnier the longer they go on at one another. When Brayden starts dating one of the tourists, Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo), his father feels an insatiable need to steal her away, leading to some lewd and often hilarious behaviour.

What is particularly impressive is the way in which Hosking and his production design and makeup teams have fashioned such a unique vision of anger and depravity. This seedy world feels lived in and the titular serial killer is a gooey, slippery wonder that has to be seen to be believed. From Ronnie and Brayden's matching bright pink turtle necks and knitted shorts to the size of their members, everything feels considered. At a Q&A after a screening at SXSW Hosking explained how he wanted the men's penises to look like pointy mouse heads and they certainly do.

Depending on your tolerance for repetitive phrases and bad taste this eye-popping oddity will either be a jaw-dropping pleaser, or an endurance test. At times it feels like you're watching a couple of mates play a giant and revolting game of dare.

Selected release from Fri 7 Oct.

The Greasy Strangler

  • 4 stars
  • 2016
  • US
  • 1h 33min
  • Directed by: Jim Hosking
  • Cast: Michael St. Michaels, Sky Elobar, Elizabeth De Razzo, Gil Gex, Abdoulaye NGom, Holland MacFallister
  • UK release: 7 October 2016

'Disco tour' operator Big Ronnie (St Michaels), who puts grease in everything including coffee, lives in a filthy house in LA with his son Big Brayden (Elobar), with whom he constantly squabbles. Oily and disgusting and yet unique; you'll find it either a jaw-dropping pleaser or an endurance test.