The goofy, absurd horror-comedy "Bad Milo!" is a cult classic in the making. Its lo-fi charms — the cutesy-scary monster design, earnest family values and Danny Elfman-esque soundtrack — make the film feel like an '80s throwback in a way that justifies the nostalgia. But enjoyment of the film will depend on one's delight in endless jokes about one man's behind.
In an early scene, married couple Duncan (Ken Marino) and Sara (Gillian Jacobs) stare intensely at an ultrasound screen, impatient for the news that'll change their lives. "You got a thing in your butt … a little trooper in your pooper," announces Duncan's doctor. It should disappear, though, if he manages his stress.
FOR THE RECORD:
"Bad Milo" review: A review of the film “Bad Milo” in the Oct. 4 Calendar section misidentified the Highsmith character as being played by Toby Huss. He is played by Peter Stormare.
But the "little trooper" turns out to be a feral monster, a miniature E.T. with ink-black eyes both innocent and hollow. When Duncan suffers a humiliation at work or the proctologist's office, "Milo" exits his colon to tear apart the person responsible. With the help of a therapist (Toby Huss), Duncan gradually learns to control his gremlin by treating it like a maniacal puppy — with loving coos and infuriated yelling.
Marino, a deliciously slimy comedian, is somewhat wasted as a straight man, but his commitment to self-degradation is admirable. Likewise, director Jacob Vaughan maintains a commendable tonal balance between Duncan's emotional growth (including his fatherhood anxieties), the cartoonish violence and the cringe-comedy antics of side characters. "Milo" is definitely no stinker.
"Bad Milo!" MPAA rating: R for bloody comic horror violence, and for language and some sexual content . Running time: 1 hour, 24 minutes. At Sundance Sunset Cinemas, West Hollywood. Also available on VOD.
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