Movie Review: "Bad Milo!"
Rating: R (strong bloody violence, language, some sexual content)
Length: 107 min
Release Date: August 29, 2013
Directed By: Jacob Vaughan
Genre: Comedy, Horror
Stars: 3 out of 5
"Bad Milo" is easily one of the most innovative if bizarre comedy films produced in recent years. The film centers on Duncan, a mid-level office worker who is underappreciated both at work and at home. Duncan is married to a beautiful woman, and his parents have been putting a lot of pressure on the young couple to have children. In addition to this, Duncan is overworked at the office, and his coworkers frequently take him for granted. With a nightmare boss and a dead-end career, Duncan is going nowhere fast. He eventually visits the doctor when he notices that every time he becomes stressed, he experiences severe abdominal pains.
An ultrasound uncovers a disturbing finding that even Duncan's doctors don't understand. It seems that there is something living in Duncan's intestinal tract causing severe pain whenever he becomes stressed. The doctors assume the problem is a parasite, and they recommend surgery to fix the problem. From that point on, the film becomes extremely gory and chaotic. Duncan births a demonic entity that was living inside his intestines and serves as a physical manifestation of his stress. Because Duncan cannot stand up for himself, the entity takes on the job and brutally shreds anyone who gets in his way.
Advised by a friend and expert in the occult, Duncan decides to attempt making friends with the creature. He dubs the creature Milo and begins trying to win him over. Milo proves friendlier than Duncan had expected, and eventually Duncan succeeds at controlling Milo's violent outbursts. While Milo may be able to be contained temporarily, Duncan soon learns that he can't be tamed. Milo begins to threaten Duncan's wife and unborn child, forcing Duncan to stand up to his strange new friend and take charge of his own life or risk losing everything he loves.
Ken Marino does a brilliant job of portraying the lovable yet blundering Duncan. Duncan is a remarkably relatable character, stuck with an unappreciative family and a difficult career. It is easy to sympathize with Duncan's inability to stand up for himself and assert his own needs and wants. Director Jacob Vaughan chooses a unique and amusing outlet for Duncan's bolder side in the form of Milo, a strangely endearing little creature. Milo may be a demon, but that doesn't stop him from displaying his own unique brand of charm. Even when he's ripping people apart, he manages to be bizarrely cute at times, and his relationship with Duncan makes for some novel character development.
"Bad Milo" is an irreverent nod to such B-movie classics as "Gremlins" and "Little Shop of Horrors." The film manages to pull off the fun and campy style of intentionally campy eighties' horror films, blending just the right amount of corny humor and sincerity. The movie is also surprisingly thoughtful, taking far more time for character development than most films in the exploitation genre. While "Bad Milo" boasts every bit as much gratuitous violence and blood-soaked comedy as "Kill Bill" and "Machete Kills," the film also has a heartfelt tone of nostalgia similar to that of "Ted." "Bad Milo" will resonate with individuals who have had trouble standing up for themselves and dealing with the stresses of daily life the way they know they should.
Much of modern horror focuses on elaborate special effects and jump scares, but "Bad Milo" offers a much more scaled-back approach to horror. The film serves up equal doses of humor and terror, mingling in a few heartwarming moments along the way. Milo is an unexpectedly likable character, and Duncan is an easy hero with which to identify. The offbeat, quirky vibe of the film is refreshing and makes for a delightful change of pace amid the more serious horror films that have been released in recent months. For anyone who wants to indulge in a bloody, bizarre thrill ride that turns the horror genre on its head, "Bad Milo" will be a welcome addition to your campy classic DVD shelf.
The film's supporting cast is nicely rounded out with Gillian Jacobs, Toby Huss, and Patrick Warburton. Jacobs, best known for her role as an activist college student in "Community," delivers a believable performance as Duncan's wife, providing a grounding element to this over-the-top film. Milo himself steals the show with his gruesome antics and surprisingly good intentions, proving that the best friends really can come from the unlikeliest of places. "Bad Milo" may not be a conventional horror film, even for the exploitation subgenre, but it is so unique and well-crafted that it is sure to be a pleasant surprise.