Watching a filth-covered man roll around in a septic tank for an hour and a half didn’t turn out to be as fun as I expected. The 2014 gross-out horror film Septic Man had the potential to be like a darker Toxic Avenger but instead has none of Troma’s charm and ends up being every bit as bad as its premise would imply.
Jack, a soon to be father and self-described “civic minded shit sucker” is hired by a mysterious organization to combat the city’s water contamination crisis and, after accidentally locking himself in a septic tank, diagnoses the problem as “shit zombies backing up the water supply”. In what amounts to The Fly in a septic tank, he begins to transform into a hideous poo beast. The septic plant is also inhabited by two in-bred monsters: an emotionally fragile giant and his seemingly rabies-infested brother whose teeth he helpfully sharpens with a piece of steel. In a bittersweet moment, the giant sobs over his brother’s death while simultaneously vomiting profusely.
Director Jesse Thomas Cook does a competent job and the soundtrack is actually pretty decent, but that can’t change the fact that the film is drab, ugly, and depressing. It’s also disappointing because the grossest scene happens before the opening credits. Sure, there are gross-out moments involving fecal fountains, intestines, and a sewer baby but the movie never tops the nastiness of its first scene. Most of the film is simply Jack wallowing in a single septic tank, covered with escalating degrees of bodily fluids.
Ultimately, Septic Man fails because it is boring and not nearly as transgressive as it could have been. Gross-out fests can be ridiculous fun (like Zombie Ass) or truly disturbing (like The Human Centipede), but Septic Man just ends up being crap.