In scenes that echo the sitcom "The Office", BUTT BOY opens with a desperately unhip boss Rick (Austin Lewis) addressing his staff at the nondescriptly named RTM offices. He's getting his team to engage in a painfully cringe-inducing motivational dance on the shop floor, all of which is in honour of newly promoted employee Jon (Wilky Lau). IT guy Chip (Tyler Cornack) is visibly unimpressed, passed over for promotion yet again. Perhaps it's because he's a thirty-something white collar scruff who sits at his desk watching the clock each day in anticipation of his 5pm cue to clock-off.
Chip's home life isn't too great either. His wife Anne (Shelby Dash) is largely disinterested in his sexual advances, perhaps due to her responsibilities looking after their baby son - a new addition to the family that Chip doesn't seem overly thrilled by.
One morning, the day after an evening of lifeless "going through the motions" sex with Anne, Chip attends his local doctor for a routine prostate examination. The doctor isn't exactly gentle when ramming his fingers up Chip's arse, but our protagonist doesn't find the experience too intrusive. On the contrary, he clearly enjoys it. Later that evening, he's having sex with Anne a little more enthusiastically than normal, and tries to get her to finger him in his backside. Mm, she's not enamoured with the notion but Chip persists and consequently the mood is killed. So, instead, Chip retires to the shower and finishes the job off himself by inserting a bar of soap where the sun doesn't shine.
Over the course of the next few days, things start going missing around their suburban home: specifically the TV remote control and, er, Rocky the family dog ...
While pinning flyers to trees in the local park appealing for Rocky's safe return, Chip spies a mother with her infant. A few hours later, cops knock on his door advising that the very same child went missing; he joins in with the subsequent search of nearby streets, but ... has he got something to hide?
Indeed, something certainly appears to be pricking his conscience, judging by how distraught he is while trying to get to sleep in bed later that night.
All of the above takes place during BUTT BOY's opening 13 minutes, before the opening titles have even commenced!
With the opening credits over, we jump to nine years later - bringing us to the film's present tense. Dishevelled police detective Russell (Tyler Rice) walks into a support group for alcoholics one afternoon and, after the initial meeting, is assigned a sponsor: a slightly older but no less miserable-looking Chip. The pair bonds somewhat over food at a diner that evening, where Russell reveals he's only been dry a matter of days and openly misses everything about the honk.
Meanwhile Chip's home life remains as mundane as ever, and he seems completely disengaged with Anne and his son (Tyler Dryden). Significantly, the addiction of his own is starting to take control of his urges again. Things start going missing once more, both at Chip's home and the RTM offices.
All of this goes by unnoticed. That changes when Rick announces a "bring your kid to work" day at the RTM offices. Colleague Jon's son makes the unwise decision to shelter beneath Chip's desk when Rick organises a game of office hide-and-seek for the kids. Um, that boy is never seen again.
And guess who's assigned as lead detective on the case once the police become involved? Go on, guess.
Russell interviews employees one by one and eventually happens upon Chip, who hasn't been returning his fellow addict's calls for a couple of weeks. Chip, as IT expert, becomes Russell's prime suspect on account of all security cameras in the office having been wiped clean immediately after the kid disappeared.
Well, Chip does at least confess to knowing how to control the office's CCTV system. But, if he really is responsible for the lad vanishing, how on Earth did he manage it in an office full of people ... and where is the kid now?
Russell starts staking Chip out in the hope of finding that answer. He ingratiates himself with Anne in a bid to discover more about his suspect, but the closer he gets to the truth ... well, the weirder events become.
All of which propels us into an increasingly surreal final forty minutes or so.
Going in to BUTT BOY, directed by Cornack (who also co-wrote the screenplay with Ryan Koch), and having nothing but a brief press release synopsis as my guide, I was admittedly fearing the worst: a cheap and crass comedy of Troma proportions where fart gags are the order of the day. Rather, what I got was an unexpectedly sombre and deliberately paced rumination on the destructive nature of addiction, one which works equally well as disturbing character study and pitch-black comedy.
Along with a satisfying pace the film also benefits from strong performances, surprisingly high production values and a great moody 80s-centric electronic score by the enigmatically named Feathers. It's also beautifully shot on frequent occasion.
The final half-hour takes a definite swerve into neon-hued sci-fi territory and at the sense of the bizarre recalls David Lynch at his most psychedelic.
But what's most interesting are the quieter interludes where Chip is seen to be struggling to contain his addiction, no matter how absurd it may seem. We retain some sense of sympathy for this hugely flawed character.
In short, this is so much than a yarn about a man who stuffs objects up his backside for kicks.
We were sent an online screener link of BUTT BOY from its distributors, Epic Pictures. The film is available to stream on demand now on a multitude of platforms including Amazon, Vimeo, iTunes, Vudu and more.
The film looks very good in an accurate-looking widescreen presentation boasting sharp detail and authentic colours. At 100 minutes and 4 seconds in length, this is the uncut version of the film. English audio was clear, clean and consistent throughout.
BUTT BOY isn't some Troma-style exercise in juvenile bad taste, nor is anything remotely resembling gay porn (well, the title can be read in several ways ...). It's a genuinely surprising, well-made and quietly discomfiting black-comedy-thriller-sci-fi hybrid that I really wasn't expecting to recommend.
But recommend I can, and do.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by Epic Pictures|