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The Greasy Strangler: NZIFF Review

The Greasy Strangler: NZIFF Review


Best suited to a midnight screening rather than a more temperate Thursday afternoon's viewing, Jim Hosking's The Greasy Strangler is definitively lurid and trashy.

But it's also a test of an audience's patience, with repetitive scenes, oft-repeated dialogue (from arguments) and looped soundtrack interludes.

It's a conventional story about an unconventional father and son relationship - of co-habiting Big Ronnie and Brayden, the pink wearing disco tour kings of a small town. By day, the duo lead people on tours of areas claiming that's where parts of disco were invented, or where "The Earth, The Wind and The Fire" set up shop.

But by night, Michael St Michaels' Big Ronnie has a secret - he likes to get slopped down in grease and go on a killing spree...

And things are further complicated when Sky Elobar's Brayden falls for Janet....

The Greasy Strangler certainly has the power to leave speechless and will polarise audiences.

With its lo-fi feel, its schlocky gross-out edges and its penchant for older male nudity, it's certainly there for pressing the buttons.

Coupled with the repetition of the lo-fi dialogue that taps into the clear streams of consciousness rhythms that Hosking is clearly aiming for with some of it feeling like it's barely being delivered with any hint of anything other than over-acting, there's potentially something meta going on here.

And yet, this is a film that clearly knows what it is, how low it can go and how its audience will react - either embracing all of this with puerile chutzpah or being turned off completely. There's no middle ground in this polarising piece which doesn't bother to give you such trivial things as to why this greased up monster is killing, preferring to settle for scatalogical laughs that really do mine the essences of relationships in many ways.

Slopped down in congealed gloop, St Michaels' Big Ronnie is a Swamp Thing type creature, that exerts such force, his victims' eyeballs literally pop out. When his killing's done and before heading home, he takes a trip to a local car wash run by a blind guy to clean up.

If that doesn't tell you all you need to know about The Greasy Strangler, nothing will.

Scenes dovetail into the next with the dialogue of a teen argument and always culminate in a who can shout the loudest and the rudest; if you're on board with that, then this surrealism and silliness is for you to lard it up over everyone else. It has to be said though, the romance between Brayden and Janet has a sweetness and the triangle that forms is quite cleverly put together - with more being said under the surface than is fully put on screen.

The Greasy Strangler is a perverse film in many ways, and one suspects its film making team (including gonzo supremo Ant Timpson and Elijah Wood) takes a perverse pleasure from the fact it's designed to leave you speechless. It's also probably destined for cult status with large swathes of its dialogue being written solely  for being ripped out and hurled at fans by other fans as wanton catchphrases.

It's a singular NZIFF experience, of that there is absolutely no doubt.

And given what the film-makers probably set out to do, this unconventional rom-com, typical boy meets girl, boy suspects dad is greased up killer, delivers everything it sets out to in the trashiest way possible.

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