Friday, November 29, 2019

Ole' McDonald had a Punk: Maniac Farmer (2018)

Maniac Farmer (2018)
Rating: **
Starring: Jake Roark, Tyler Caldwell, Jeremy Snead

Looking at this film's poster, I wouldn't blame you if you thought this is going to be a splashy-red slasher film about a literal maniac farmer. I know I did, until I get to see the movie and man, oh man, this is far from the fun bodycounter I expected.

At a small rural Kentucky town, a punk calling himself "Blasphemous Rex" has gathered his own little group of delinquents to terrorize anybody he could under a twisted philosophy of embracing violence for the sake of violence, as if he's Alex from A Clockwork Orange only attired in a leather jacket, tight pants and black mascara. He pretty much sets himself serious for this cause by invading a house to murder its two occupants and killing off a rival gang leader.

So where does the Maniac Farmer-part come in? Well, lil' Rexy here just had to be a cocky cock one night and decided to sneak into the property of a very silent and rotund farmer. Despite getting the upper hand at first, Rex and his little merry band of mischief makers soon get their asses handed to them and most of them gets the bad end of the knife. Expect for Rex, who the farmer plans to break in spirit by keeping him alive yet isolated inside a barn, with nothing to eat but the mushed remains of not-beef.

All the while, we got two bumbling detectives looking into Rex's rap sheet which the movie implies to be so bad that it makes Rex "evil embodied". And here we are, watching said "evil embodied" ironically sniveling snot and crying for mercy, reliving horrid memories like a suggested male-on-male incestuous rape and the times he goes by the name "Carl".

As you can tell, Maniac Farmer (2018) doesn't stick to one horror trope and would rather juggle everything from hicksploitation, slasher, crime thriller and psychological torture porn. Writer and director Matthew Williams definitely wrote a script that works well enough with this idea to keep my attention for its unexpected twist, but there are many moments in the film that felt way too overplayed that it borderlines predictable and its message overcooked. Add the matter that the movie is dry on the blood and gore aisle despite having bucket loads of opportunities to be violent onscreen (Y'know? To show off Blasphemous Rex's infamous reputation and why we should root for his demise for the right reason?), the film is unsurprisingly flawed and can get a tad tiresome in its short seventy-plus minute run.

Thankfully, we got some mostly fair acting from Maniac Farmer (2018)'s slow run to keep my attention occupied, even if it's through the "so-bad-it's-hilarious" mindset, like Rex's actor Tyler Caldwell's cheesy take on a savage punk-turned-horror victim whose highlights include a roaring monologue about the nature of violence to entice a crowd, as well as his character getting a talk to and even tormented by his own psyches. Jake Roark as the titular maniac farmer doesn't really have much to say in his role, but he does acted his silent role well enough to be somewhat alright, while Jeremy Snead and Alexander Davis hits a few right comic relief punches to keep their talkative cop duo Lenhardt and Dunigan far from being totally annoying.

No doubt about Maniac Farmer (2018) being a lackluster mess, but I will commend its attempt to make a name for itself by twisting the rules and expectations, as well as showing some sort of effort in its production despite the small budget and the do-it-yourself quality of the final product. As, however, some guy who prefers his hicksploitation chainsaw-wielding and/or consists of deformed cannibal mutants residing in Virginia, this is still far from being in par with my favorite cup of slasher tea.

1 male gets a switchblade to the gut, later implied stabbed to death
1 female murdered offcamera, later implied beaten
1 female seen killed
1 male had his throat slashed with a switchblade
1 male had his throat cut with a knife
1 victim beaten to death with a toilet seat
1 victim smothered with a pillow
1 female had her throat cut with a knife
1 female seen killed, method unknown
1 female skeleton found
1 male presumably killed with a hatchet
Total: 11*

*An early scene mentioned three possible additional victims to Rex's murder spree, but not enough implications are given to conclude this. In addition, a scene at the near end shows Rex popping out of a couple of hiding places and seems to implied possible murders but, again, with no bodies or direct indication given, I had to leave them out.

Blasphemous Rex. Sounds like a Mad Max character... 

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