The Greasy Strangler (2016)
Directed by Jim Hosking • Written by Jim Hosking & Toby Harvard
With Michael St. Michaels, Sky Elobar and Elizabeth De Razzo
Jim Hosking’s The Greasy Strangler is like one of David Lynch’s more surreal nightmares – a bizarre cross between Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste and The League of Gentleman, designed to pique disgust levels and turn stomachs. Though billed as a horror-comedy, it’s actually far less of a laugh-scare balancing act than that, working as straight-up gross-out material with an unrelenting barrage of strangeness.
Michael St. Michaels and Sky Elobar are father and son, both attracted to Janet, a woman they meet whilst doing the rounds as street guides to old disco haunts in Los Angeles. So begins a rivalry to win her affections. Also, there’s a bloke dripping in grease stalking the streets at night, strangling random people for no apparent reason.
With notable production credits behind it (Elijah Wood and Ben Wheatley) Hosking appears to be targeting niche status with a sustained level of weirdness loaded into every frame. The chuckles (if you can find them) come mainly from scenes in which characters repeat the same things over and over – laughs by way of exasperation, if you like. Then there’s the gross-out reaction, which, depending on how sheltered you’ve been, could play as the best-worst thing you’ve seen in a while, or simply the worst full stop.
What can’t be denied is the level of commitment/lack of embarrassment demonstrated by all the principal players. Whether it’s simulating cunnilingus on a greasy grapefruit or walking around bollock-naked with prosthetic penis’on full show for the majority of the running time, Michael St. Michael and Sky Elobar wholly immerse themselves in the goo of a script that asks them to humiliate themselves at nearly every turn.
More eye-openly revolting than outright funny, The Greasy Strangler’s cult aspirations might be a little over prescribed, but that shouldn’t take away from being able to admire the downright fearlessness of its existence, which doesn’t spare your feelings for a fleeting second, and does so with a symmetrically unsemytrical electronic soundtrack. Be warned – it’s likely to put you off frying bacon or sausages…ever again.