Ken Marino in "Bad Milo"

Ken Marino in “Bad Milo!”

A wonderful aspect about the horror genre is that, under the supervision of innovative and inspired filmmakers, films can feel as fun and imaginative as their influences without feeling desperate to connect to the audience or reprise the moments of their predecessors. This is especially true for Bad Milo!, the new horror comedy from Magnet Releasing, as it channels the essence of some of the best comedic horror showcases, like Gremlins and Terrorvision, without attempting to be wacky or mugging for it’s hilarity. As the film goes deeper and deeper into the roots of its demented insanity, Bad Milo! taps into a sincere cinematic catharsis, offering frenzied and outrageous comedy for every grim and shocking set piece. And while the film isn’t perfect by any means, the film is not only a refreshing return to effects-based horror, it’s a refreshing comedy as well, refusing to condescend to its viewers or compromise its twisted mentality.

The story itself is a simple one, as a meek pushover accountant watches his life fall apart from personal and professional stresses and he begins having sudden pains from a mysterious intestinal illness. Eventually, the illness reveals itself to be something much more sinister and the accountant has to resist the urge to let it run rampant against his enemies. By far not the most original idea for a horror or a comedy, as the film often feels like a laugh-out-loud adaptation of David Cronenberg’s The Brood, Bad Milo! makes up for it’s barebones concept by adding a healthy dose of Peter Jackson-esque tastelessness to the proceedings and establishing a mischievous tone throughout. The film mostly weighs upon the inherent notions of workplace mistreatment, relationship miscommunications and parental abandonment, but does so in a way that’s not only important to the plot but also to the depth of the characters, which makes the film all the more funnier and shocking for it.

In a technical aspect, Bad Milo! is sensationally crafted, bringing in one of the most horrendously charming and entertaining practical effects creatures in recent memory as the bloodthirsty titular character. Director Jacob Vaughan and Director of Photography James Laxton frame this gut-churning tale through a fairly standard lens, allowing the creative ingenuity of the project steer the narrative. The script from Vaughan and co-writer Benjamin Hayes is hysterical and incredibly off-beat, coasting along the lines of believability with the world that Bad Milo! inhabits, further complimented by an old school, nostalgia-inspiring score from Ted Masur. However, the MVP of the film comes in the form of Fractured FX, who provides the incredibly realistic looking Milo in all of his disgusting glory and in essence gave the film its heart, soul and blood. Milo looks and feels like he belongs at home in the landscape of ‘80s practically developed creatures, and that’s definitely a good thing.

"Bad Milo!"

“Bad Milo!”

Another reason why Bad Milo! works as well as it does as both a horror and a comedy is due to the performances on hand, with every actor offering a unique variation on the archetypes we know best from the atypical monster movie. Ken Marino, who has been knocking out scene-stealing performances for almost two decades now in the films of his colleagues from The State as well as Burning Love, gets the leading role he deserves as the mild-mannered man who develops in the presence of his literal inner demon. Marino’s delivery is quick and calculated, making the more crude moments all the more funny as he retreats to a more reactive performance. The film also features an engrossing and deliciously weird performance from Peter Stormare, as well as notable turns from Gillian Jacobs, Patrick Warburton, Mary Kay Place, Stephen Root and Kumail Nanjiani.

Of course, the film isn’t perfect by any measure, as the few goofy moments are held together only by the solid cast when the individual scenes spread thin. But overall, Bad Milo! is a manic masterpiece of repulsive horror-comedy, likely to please both fans of Joe Dante and John Waters with its penchant for genuine laughs and scares. It’s refreshing in its alteration of the conventions we know and appreciate within the horror genre, and it’s fun from start to finish. And with how great of an addition that the cute and vicious Milo is to the monster movie lexicon, horror fans will be clamoring to see Milo get bad again in a future outing.

– By Ken W. Hanley