The Greasy Strangler

Film, Comedy
The Greasy Strangler

A self-consciously grotesque comedy about a grease-smothered serial killer

You can’t manufacture a cult classic, but that doesn’t stop filmmakers from trying. A major talking point at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, American indie ‘The Greasy Strangler’ comes on like an aggressively repulsive blend of grindhouse shocker, ‘League of Gentlemen’ episode and Vice magazine photoshoot. First-time director Jim Hosking goes all out to offend, but his film is so painfully self-aware, so dripping with art-school irony that the effect is more mildly irritating than genuinely disconcerting.

Big Ronnie (Michael St Michaels, whose extraordinary face pretty much makes the movie) lives in a dishevelled suburban pit with his overgrown son Brayden (Sky Elobar). The pair pass their time farting, fighting and giving heavily fictionalised tours of the local disco hotspots, until Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo) enters Brayden’s life and turns everything upside down. Will Brayden and Janet live happily ever after? Or will Ronnie’s not-so-secret identity as oiled-up serial killer The Greasy Strangler screw everything up for them?

There are a handful of unforgettable moments here: a hypnotic conversation revolving around the mispronunciation of the word ‘potato’, a glorious spotlit dance sequence, a strangely uplifting woodland climax. The costumes and decor are painstakingly precise, and the straight-faced performances can be funny. But however strange it gets, ‘The Greasy Strangler’ is rarely surprising. Once you lock into its repetitive pattern of deadpan dick jokes, cheapo gore, plinky-plonky keyboard tunes, drily delivered dialogue and lashings of grease, it quickly becomes tiresome. This is strictly for hipsters – who’ll lap it up with a (greasy) spoon.

By: Tom Huddleston

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Release details

Release date: Friday October 7 2016
Duration: 93 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Jim Hosking
Screenwriter: Jim Hosking, Toby Harvard
Cast: Michael St. Michaels
Sky Elobar
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