'Septic Man': Film Review

About as appetizing as it sounds

This gross-out horror film concerns an intrepid sewage worker who becomes the target of a homicidal madman while trapped in a giant septic tank

Theaters showing Septic Man should be required to issue hazmat suits at the door. Featuring a nonstop barrage of gross-out effects depicting the substances that its title would indicate, this lowbrow horror film is mainly suitable for audiences desperately pining for yet another Toxic Avenger sequel.

Jason David Brown plays the title role of Jack, an intrepid sewage worker celebrated in his small town for having conquered a serious water contamination problem years earlier. Still performing stalwartly at his job that includes pulling dead rats out of sewer pipes, Jack finds himself once more called into action at the behest of a mysterious government figure (Julian Richings, oozing menace) after the town again falls victim to a mysterious plague.

Ignoring the entreaties of his very pregnant wife (Molly Dunsworth), Jack, in desperate need of the large cash bonus he’s been promised, descends into a massive septic tank in which he promptly becomes trapped. Flailing about in the torrents of excrement-filled muck, he discovers several corpses, including that of a baby. But his problems are only beginning, as he becomes the target of a homicidal madman named Lord Auch (Tim Burd) living in the sewers with his simple-minded sibling, “Giant” (Robert Maillet), whose duties include sharpening his brother’s fangs.

Much like Troma’s beloved Toxie, Jack soon finds himself literally transformed by his surroundings, morphing into a bizarre creature entirely covered with festering boils and other disgusting detritus. Since the film is being described as an “origin story,” it’s no spoiler to reveal that he eventually makes his escape, with the suggestion that a sequel may be forthcoming being one of its scariest aspects.

The screenplay by Tony Burgess, who also scripted the far more interesting Pontypool, lacks the satirical wit that might have elevated the proceedings above the level of poop, with such devices as periodic television addresses from the town’s mayor (Stephen McHattie) having little impact.

It’s to be hoped that Brown received combat pay for his physically taxing performance, although he really has no one to blame but himself since he also served as the film’s production designer. His excellent efforts are matched by Alex Rotundo’s superbly realized, suitably horrific makeup designs.  

Director Jesse Thomas Cook certainly piles on the muck with glee, beginning with an opening scene that depicts an unfortunate young woman hopelessly leaking from every orifice in a bathroom that makes the one in Trainspotting’s infamous toilet diving sequence look spotless. That it has little to do with the ensuing action is typical of the film’s relentless desire to induce its audience to do the same.

Production: Foresight Pictures

Cast: Jason David Brown, Molly Dunsworth, Julian Richings, Robert Maillet, Tim Burd, Stephen McHattie

Director/editor: Jesse Thomas Cook

Screenwriter: Tony Burgess

Producers: Cody Calahan, Chad Archibald

Executive producers: John Geddes, Matthew Wiele, Jesse Thomas Cook

Director of photography: Brendan Uegama

Production designer: Jason David Brown

Costume designer: Melissa Shouldice

Composer: Nate Kreiswirth

Rated R, 83 min.