Milo, which had its world premiere last night at Austin’s SXSW festival, is a hard film to describe. Is it a movie about a husband and wife’s efforts to conceive a child? Or a movie about a man plumbing the depths of his psyche to deal with his past? Aw, screw it. Let’s face it, Milo will be forever known as the “butt monster” flick.
In Jacob Vaughan’s twisted new horror comedy, Ken Marino stars as Duncan Hayslip. Duncan is a super-nice guy, but he’s under a lot of stress. His wife wants a child, his unscrupulous boss is putting him in charge of layoffs, and his chronic stomach problems are becoming too much to bear. Then there are those mysterious, gruesome deaths, seemingly the work of a rabid raccoon.
His wife, Sarah (Gillian Jacobs), convinces him to see a rather unconventional hypnotherapist (Peter Stormare) who soon discovers the root of Duncan’s problems are in his ass. No, seriously. Duncan’s ass is home to a little demon, dubbed Milo, who is the physical manifestation of Duncan’s dark side. Whoever triggers Duncan’s anxiety gets a nasty visit from Milo. Before long, bloody bodies are piling up all over town and Duncan realizes he has to do something to contain his vengeful little buddy.
I know how this sounds, but believe it or not, Milo actually works pretty well. Though it occasionally veers a little too close to the absurd, Vaughan ably manages the task of keeping the whole affair from lapsing into raucous, gross-out humor — which is saying something when your film’s protagonist has a toothy little demon crawling in and out of his ass every few minutes.
A lot of the credit for the film’s success goes to the impeccable cast Vaughan has assembled. Every single actor has first-class comedic chops. That said, the reason Milo succeeds is because the actors play it straight. Their characters are going through a situation that is both extraordinarily weird and, at times, ridiculously funny — and that pretty much sums up Milo.
If ever a film was destined to become a cult classic, it’s this one. If you’re thinking about seeing Milo but are put off by the whole “butt monster” angle, take a note from Duncan: Just relax. It’s going to get weird, but everything will be okay.