Bad Milo! (2013)

Accountant Ken has an unwelcome guest living in his lower intestine, a demon manifested of his repressed ill-will to the world. Named Milo. When people in Ken’s life start showing up brutally slain, supposedly by a rabid raccoon, he teams up with his psychiatrist (Peter Stormare using all of the grim intensity in his arsenal) to bring Milo down. Bad Milo is a film about learning to accept your dark side and relinquishing total control, while also heaping a little bit of wish fulfillment on top for good measure.

Jacob Vaughan populates his second feature with a cast made up of US sitcom’s brightest stars including Ken Marino, Gillian Jacobs and Patrick Warburton. Marino skirts the line between nuanced schlub of Louis CK and the unsubtle anxiety of Ray Romano, somehow along the way Marino manages to make Bad Milo more than a succession of poop jokes. Constantly the butt of everyone’s gags, his character is an identifiable everyman dealing with the stresses of modern life manifested in a horrifying way. While Stormare, Marino, and Stephen Root get the meat of the screenplay, little is leftover for the rest of the cast.

Aside from a few choice lines, Jacobs is particularly underused. In most cases, Patrick Warburton can steal a scene with one sentence and a narrowing of his eyes, but here he just dangles loosely. When the writing is on form, it really succeeds. However, sometimes finds itself in unfocused skit territory where improvisational riffing takes precedent over storytelling. It’s true that some of the funniest stuff comes out of the seemingly unscripted moments but these bum notes cost the film as a whole.

Stephen Root‘s appearance is no accident: Bad Milo feels like a spiritual successor to Office Space, with a dash of Basket Case and Gremlins thrown into the mix. While it may not reach the heights of those classic entries into their respective genres, it certainly holds it weight against recent horror comedies. Sure, any genuine horror is muted by the comic pacing and gooey punchlines of Bad Milo, but as a comedy reared from a horror plot – it works.

It’s gross and witty with some smart ideas at the core. While some may be turned off by the incessant scat humour, those who find pleasure in fart gags will find a home with Bad Milo. That’s not to say it only offers cheap defecation and gore; there are plenty of throwaway one liners across a range of topics that will continue to delight over multiple viewings. Fledgling film-maker Vaughan has a keen eye for interesting detail, aided here by cinematographer James Laxton. Visually stimulating enough to not detract from the comedy, there are a few instances of technical brilliance. Despite some murky writing and unexploited potential, Bad Milo is a surefire winner with fans of cult TV like Party Down, Community, and The Venture Bros.

Rating: ★★★★★★★½☆☆

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