THE ORANGE MAN (2016)
Written and Directed by Stephen Folker
When his client list dries up and with no-one buying his freshly picked oranges, farmer Peter Walkins reaches breaking point and decides to take bloody revenge on everyone around him with his hooked hand and sack of oranges. 27 years later, the mass murders committed by Peter have become folklore but as a group of single men out for a boys weekend soon discover, the story of the citrus serial killer is no urban legend.
As soon as I read the synopsis for horror comedy The Orange Man, I knew it’d be right up my street. I mean, who wouldn’t want to watch a film about a pissed off guy killing people with a sack of oranges?
Though the film depicts one man’s descent into madness after his delicious, hand-picked oranges are rejected in favour of other suppliers’ fruit, it’s not the titular killer who’s the star of the show. Instead, it’s a group of over-the-hill guys looking for some good fun through their male-bonding mini break. After land developer Gerald is served divorce papers from his cheating wife, who’s always getting a ‘tune-up’ by PC repairman Roger, he invites his best friends geeky Wilbur, wheelchair bound Reggie and ‘bird-watching’ lothario Jimmy to a cabin in the woods for a weekend of fishing, boozing and general fun whilst at the same time closing a business deal he has going down nearby. The little road trip and subsequent woodland vacation is just what the doctor ordered with the four of them providing laugh after laugh with their inspired, hilarious characters.
Each of the four main characters are given equal screentime even though the character Gerard is the persona driving the narrative. Gerard himself is a newbie to the single life and is a bit unsure and afraid of what to expect, fearful of having to get back into the dating game. His nerdy friend Wilbur doesn’t really offer any good advice as he relies on internet chatrooms and dating websites to find himself a partner even if past experiences have proved internet relationships cannot be trusted. Their mate Reggie, who’s been wheelchair bound since a nasty accident, is too preoccupied with kidney stones which makes urinating quite the issue. Thankfully he has pal, self-proclaimed ladies man Jimmy, to help escort him to the bathroom and other hard-to-reach places when he’s not watching the local talent through his binoculars.
Not much is known about the titular Orange Man, played by Ben Rollins, though from the film’s opener it’s plain to see that the poor fella was just a normal, average guy looking to spread his Vitamin-C loaded fruit far and wide when he finally cracked. The rest, such as where he’s been hiding these past 27 years, is a mystery but I’d like to imagine he’s been lurking in the back of a pickup truck, just waiting for the opportune moment to cosh someone over the head with a sack of oranges. Although the film may be named after him, the film isn’t teally so much about the Orange Man and in a way, he plays a supporting role in the movie and does so with the right amount of dungaree-wearing, orange-wielding crazy menace.
After watching the film, I’ve come to the conclusion that, without a doubt, Stephen Folker is a genius. From witty visual gags, such as Reggie holding a giant sausage around the campfire, to hilarious banter between the characters, The Orange Man delivers its brand of freshly-squeezed horror humour and boy, do I love it. Fortunately, he’s found the right cast to play his lovable characters too. Dave Juehring as soon-to-be divorcee Gerald, Thomas Ely Sage as Wilbur, Glenn Harston as Reggie and Jim Plovanich as Jimmy are the most perfect group of actors you could wish for and their chemistry with one another is outstanding. I could easily see these guys as friends in real life and would kill (with oranges if necessary) to see them in a movie together again. With Folker’s script and their comical performances, The Orange Man becomes a film that you can invest in yet can also keep you entertained for the full duration of the movie. It’s very rare you find a film where you can care about the characters and their safety yet at the same time laugh your socks off at their awkwardness and harebrained approach to life.
With rib-tickling humour, The Orange Man delivers more as a comedy with just a splash of horror but is one film that will have horror fans splitting their sides.