SEPTIC MAN (2013)
Directed by Jesse Thomas Cook
Jack, a sewage worker, is offered $200,000 and a cushy office job for life should he stay behind during an evacuation to fix a water contamination problem that has poisoned the local water supply causing numerous deaths and casualties. With a child on the way with his partner Shelley, Jack decides to accept the offer so that he may have a fruitful future for his family. After investigating the contamination and accidentally falling down into an underground sewage tank at the waterworks, Jack must survive any way he can but finds he is not alone…
I sat down to watch SEPTIC MAN late in the evening, whilst nibbling on a ham sandwich (I always get peckish around 10pm), but eating should be the last thing on your mind when watching this gross-out horror with its opening scene that will make you want to spew with its female character doing just that. However, it doesn’t end there. She’s also spewing out of the other end too. With a puke covered girl and shit splattered bathroom, I had an inkling that this film would probably not be to my taste, after all I have a phobia of grime and the last time I watched a film involving shit (Salo) I couldn’t eat for 24 hours it made me that physically sick. Thankfully SEPTIC MAN isn’t as bad in that it won’t make you sick but its constant attempts at trying to make the viewer feel ill quickly become monotonous.
Lead character Jack is a likable bloke, even if he has a job he seems to enjoy a little too much to the point of not wearing a gasmask for protection. We feel for him when he finds himself stuck in the tank with no way out and are with him every step of the way as he begins to succumb to his surroundings. Jason David Brown’s performance as the Septic Man just trying to do right by his family is what drives the film with very little going on around him to bounce off. His perseverance in the nightmarish conditions makes the viewer root for him to find a way out and to be reunited with his pregnant partner. Will Phil Prosser, played by genre actor Julian Richings (Cube), be the one to save Jack after offering him the job he probably wishes he hadn’t have taken?
I’d love to say that SEPTIC MAN offers up an engaging story but unfortunately there’s not a lot going on. Poor Jack basically makes a home for himself in the standing sewage water, eventually befriending the numerous bodies stashed down there. His physical appearance goes through a sudden dramatic change too in a time frame that is hard to decipher. In the real world, I’d suspect he’d become sick and die but it seems Jack has grown accustomed to his sickening surroundings, so much so that he has evolved into something completely unrecognisable…
Whilst a part of me appreciates what the filmmakers have done with the film, SEPTIC MAN feels too thrown together to thoroughly enjoy. The two brothers inhabiting the waterworks, for instance, don’t really offer anything of value to the plot and just serve as an excuse as to why there’s dead bodies in the tank with Jack and as a false sense of hope for Jack of getting out of his stinking prison. Even the journey that Jack makes from beginning to the end of the film doesn’t have the desired effect and it feels like more could have been done with it.
The story of SEPTIC MAN is a proper slow burn but ultimately doesn’t deliver at the finale to make it worth sitting through. The plot might make for a fine showcase of the make-up effects used on Jason David Brown but the depressing, almost static, nature of the film makes the movie seem like just an excuse to conjure up as much twisted, sickening poop and vomit visuals as possible.