October 22, 2013 Water, the sustainable life source so vital to man’s existence is something we really can’t do without. So the pronouncement of a municipal water contamination would sound the death knell for any community. And that death knell was ringing loudest, in of all places Collingwood, in Director Jesse T. Cook’s stomach churning journey into the darkened recesses, in “Septic Man”.
Contamination, information, evacuation and investigation are the next steps taken by Collingwood’s bloviated Mayor (Stephen McHattie) as he puts in the requisite TV face time to calm the nervous masses and try to get ahead of this nightmarish juggernaut. With dead bodies littering the landscape and the unconscious fighting some still unconfirmed illness, the communities panic does not abate. As the evacuation orders go into full effect, we see the local Septic Man / Jack (Jason David Brown), in a remote field toiling in a filthy amalgam of Collingwood’s finest. Things take on ominous national and international significance when the army is called in and the Centre for Disease Control in the US starts sniffing around. Enter, the willowy Kafkaesque Mr. Prosser (Julian Richings), with his encyclopedic knowledge of Jack and a G-man demeanor.
Prosser, under the direction of the nameless, faceless Consortium organization sees Jack as just the Mr. Fix-it they’re looking for and will remunerate him to the tune of $200,000 upon completion if he can resolve this odious quagmire. For Jack, this money became the salvation to all their problems as his increasingly worried wife Shelley (Molly Dunsworth), is well into her last trimester of pregnancy. Tensions build with Shelley as Jack must decide between solving the contamination or flee to safety with his wife. The set-up of Septic Man asks more questions than it answers as Cook amps up the mystery by staying deliberately murky on so many story lines like, who really is Prosser and what is his agenda? And we still don’t know who the Consortium Group is.
With blueprints in hand, Jack enters the murky and remote subterranean underbelly of Collingwood as the pounding Trent Reznor inspired soundtrack heightens the urgency with each step. Things quickly go awry and a few more wrong turns leaves our protagonist trapped and most certainly not alone turning Septic Man’s saga into a character study on a meditation of Jack’s will to survive. Any chance for a sober second thought has long since passed as the slurry of waste slowly breaks him down from the inside out.
Verdict 4 out of 5: Canadian horror cinema has undergone a renaissance of sorts over the last few years. With the likes of Adam Lopez with TADFF and more recently Kelly Michael Stewart with The Canadian Blood in The Snow Film Festival (BITSFF) celebrating the best in contemporary Canadian horror filmmaking. Both festivals are bridging the chasm between great Canadian horror films and their growing fan base. This winning combination has yielded yet another success story. Director Jesse T. Cook and Writer Tony Burgess have crafted a pulsating allegory nuanced in the dark reaches of man’s will. Kudos to Burgess for writing a strong interplay between Lord Auch (Tim Burd), and the Giant (Robert Maillet), as a darker more subterranean version of John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” further highlighting just how brilliant their cinematic process really is. Never pandering to the silly or offbeat horror elements to curry quick laugh, Septic Man is left to shine on its own merits. With this latest installment making the rounds, Canadian horror is once again in capable independent hands.
Final Thought: This shit is gonna get REAL.
Director: Jesse T. Cook
Writer: Tony Burgess
Runtime: 83 Minutes
Release Date: October, 2013
Cast: Jason David Brown, Julian Richings, Molly Dunsworth, Stephen McHattie, Robert Maillet, Tim Burd, Nicole G. Leier