Every year at Sundance, there is inevitably one film that strives to be the big “walkout film” of the year. The programmers here at the fest love to challenge audiences, and this year there seems to be at least two walkout successes of the festival. The first being the long feature-length flatulence joke that is Swiss Army Man, the second being the subject of this review The
The Greasy Strangler may not only be the most challenging film of this festival, but one of the most challenging films to ever premiere at the festival. It’s the story of a social inept father and son, whose relationship is threatened when the son falls in love with one of their city disco tour customers. The father’s rage at seeing his son’s happiness starts to pick at his sanity, and thus the “the Greasy Strangler” is born.
With such a simple synopsis, The Greasy Strangler does not have the overall appearance of being that bad, however director Jim Hosking’s sense of humor is quite unique, and one that will test the patience of 99% of its audience. Hosking’s jokes are stretched out to incredibly long repetitive chunks of time, and move in a constant cycle of being not funny to hilarious and back to not funny again. It’s a grueling cycle and at no point does Hosking break it.
The Greasy Strangler not only tests your mind, but it will test your stomach as well. There are things in this movie that will have people running towards that bathroom, or in the least cause you to stare at the floor pleading for the insanity to stop. It’s not so much the gore as the fact that the “grease” in Greasy Strangler is a big part of the whole story. Big Ronnie, the father in this story, is addicted to oily, greasy foods, and much of the film is spent pouring it on everyone and everything in sight.
The Greasy Strangler is a film that most people will feel turned off by. It has the somewhat unique property of also being one of the most memorable films you will ever see. With one viewing, the film’s images will be burned into your retinas and will forever have a home carved out inside your memories. Movies don’t have to be good to be important, and a film like Greasy Strangler is important for the sheer fact that it is so brutally abusive to its audience.
If you are that kid in high school that was constantly trying to get your friends to watch Cannibal: The Musical with you, than this is most certainly your film. Look at it as the world’s most nauseating carnival ride, you don’t ride it because it’s fun, you do it because you want to test your limits.