'Assholes': Film Review

Courtesy of Factory 25
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Two misfits bond over their shared obsession with anuses in Peter Vack's perverse dark comedy.

Peter Vack’s directorial debut doubles as a handy test for romantic commitment. Persuade your significant other to watch the film with you. And if he or she doesn’t leave you forever after the experience, then you know you have a keeper.

That’s assuming, of course, that you actually manage to sit through this demented absurdist comedy that doesn’t just push the envelope in terms of offensive and disgusting content, it folds it neatly and uses it for toilet paper. Desperately striving for cult status that it will never achieve, Assholes could be described as forgettable. Except, sadly, it isn’t.

Since you’ve made it this far into the review, I might as well describe the plot. It concerns the beautiful Adah (Betsey Browne) and the far from beautiful Aaron (Jack Dunphy), recovering addicts who meet in the office of their therapist. Discovering an immediate mutual attraction, or more accurately, desperation, they fall into a sexual relationship. But the main element bringing them together is their shared obsession with, as the vulgar title indicates, anuses.

Falling off the wagon and becoming addicted both to poppers and each other, the loving couple engage in the sort of increasingly perverted activities that won’t be described here. Both begin suffering from increasingly horrific herpes sores which the writer/director (who also plays the comparatively straight role of Adah’s brother) films with loving affection. Suffice it to say that a particular close-up of Aaron’s infected, sore-covered penis would be of great benefit to sex education courses advocating abstinence.

By the time the film features the appearance of an elderly female demon, Mephistopheles (Eileen Dietz), or “Mephi” for short, who springs from Adah’s rectum, most viewers will have long since fled in horror. Which is a shame, since they’ll miss the extended sequence in which the puss-covered Adah and Arron go on a licentious rampage through the streets of Manhattan, including having sex in the middle of Times Square. Or the film’s climax in which their faces are transformed into…well, that’s again where the title comes in.

Not managing to infuse its cinematic provocations with any semblance of wit, Assholes feels much, much longer than its brief running time. To be fair, credit must be given to the lead performers — well, to any of the performers, actually — who certainly commit themselves physically to the grotesque material. One can only hope their health insurance plans include psychological counseling.

Distributors: Breaking Glass Films, Factory 25
Cast: Betsey Browne, Jack Dunphy, Eileen Dietz, Peter Vack
Director-screenwriter: Peter Vack
Producers: Ron Brown, Sara Yoko Howard, Christopher Santiago, Peter Vack
Executive producers: Cory Choy, Max Landis, Hannah Marks, Robin Shore
Director of photography: Justin Zweifach
Production designer: Jane Ji
Editor: Brad Turner
Costume designers: Betsey Browne Jane Brown
Composer: Brian McOmber

74 minutes