There is a generation of horror fans that grew up with excess. Instead of the dark realism of the 70’s, the children of the 80’s were greeted with lots of vibrant colors, loud synth scores, and exaggerated monsters; who often made some puns and other bad jokes along the way. This decade was not for the brooders or the over-serious types, this decade was for Debbie Gibson and “Critters”. Jump to present day, when horror has largely drifted back into the gory seriousness of the 70s, and you’ll still find small sects of nostalgia driven 80’s fandom. When watching Bad Milo, the latest from director Jacob Vaughan and producers Mark and Jay Duplass, it becomes pretty clear that these men not only grew up and understand that decade in horror, they are well within the nostalgia camp mentioned above. But does nostalgia and homage alone a good movie make? The answer to that is in that grey area of “yes and no”. There is no question that Bad Milo is entertaining, engaging, and well-paced throughout, heck it’s even mostly funny the majority of the time. The only problem is that most of the film sags under the weight of its own nostalgic homage to its predecessors. Instead of feeling like a legitimate, stand-alone film, it feels like a labored attempt at recreating something lost to the filmmakers childhood. If you don’t know the general synopsis of Bad Milo, lets just suffice to say it involves a lot of poop, butt-holes, and farts, and especially evil ones at that. If that sounds like its up your comedic alley, you will most likely enjoy this thing. And for the record, it is mostly enjoyable. Never has a better line reading of “Is that poop on your shirt?” ever been uttered on screen. Despite that general enjoyability, though, you can’t help but feel the nostalgia tinted glasses pushing this film a little too far into its own general conceit. On the one hand you can say that the filmmakers went all in and created a full-on, gross out, comedy-horror film in a take no prisoners style. On the other, you can feel the film bend under the pure effort of being funny here. Many jokes are forced and are never really earned. The jokes are just there because that generation of the 80’s would want them to be. So while there are some themes of fatherhood, family, and the masculine fear of responsibility, the nostalgia of the 80’s pushes it all to the side in its typical garish and colorful way. Instead of jokes within a natural framework of the story, they just rip(no pun intended) through the running time with an undeniable energy that somehow still feels a bit hollow. All of that said, Bad Milo is all of the following adjectives, fun, funny, interesting, compelling, and mostly successful. The only thing keeping it from the complete success that inspired the sentimentality for those 80’s classics is it’s own voracity. If the filmmakers could have stepped back from that nostalgia-laden love letter to their childhood films they could have had a much more effective and entertaining film. As it stands, though, I would still proudly buy a Bad Milo t-shirt and display it next to my “Critters” memorabilia.
REVIEW: Bad Milo