To begin with, it's worth saying this is a film I had been looking forward to for some time, and hats off to Shudder for picking this one up – it's a bold choice given what has been said about this movie prior to its release. Apparently enduring a host of walkouts during its screening at the Sundance Film Festival, and later being described online as 'the grossest movie ever made', this one screamed Film Gutter from the very get go. And given some of the talent involved at Brainfeeder Films – talent that certainly has a reputation for the bizarre – I was buzzing to get stuck into this one.
In many ways, it was everything that I expected, and really rather hard to describe adequately without actually watching. Kuso's framework is an occasionally-referenced earthquake that has caused a strange series of events to occur, which allows for a sort of montage style that provides a lot of creative freedom. So just what is it about? It's about a man who enters into a three-way relationship with a talking boil that has developed on his girlfriend, which we unfortunately get to see the consummation of. It's the story of a woman descending into hell to save her baby only to find herself physically attached to another woman. It's the story of a man determined to cure his fear of breasts by undergoing a trippy treatment after a cockroach, Mr Quiggle, emerges from his doctor's ass and squirts some sort of medicine (kind of) into his mouth (starring George Clinton and male porn star Lexington Steele, no less). It's about a woman who discovers she's pregnant by a creep that emerges through her toilet to say hello and the two bears (again, maybe not a perfect description) with TVs for faces that she lives with. It's about all of those things and an awful lot more, but that probably gives you some sense of just how odd this piece of work is.
I think whether this is to your taste or not, the craft and care that has gone into Kuso is undeniable. All the make-up work is meticulous, the visuals are breathtaking for the right reasons in places and all the wrong reasons in other – veering from glorious to horrifying – the soundtrack is wonderful (as you would expect from anything associated with directory Flying Lotus) and there is a freshness and originality here that is hard to deny. The film's detractors might argue a case that it is trying too hard to be different, but as any of my regular readers will know I prize originality in horror above a lot of other qualities, so you won't hear any complaints from me in that respect. I have a deep suspicion this is also a movie that will improve with repeat watching, as so much Adult Swim television.
And as I wrote that, I realised the best way I could describe Kuso is if Adult Swim decided to make a horror film, this would probably be it. It's relentlessly original, continually disturbing and takes pleasure in keeping its audience distinctly unbalanced. Just when you think you've figured something out, wham – we're onto the next thing. For me, it is entertaining and it kept my attention held tight all the way, but then Adult Swim has always produced some of my very favourite TV, and generally the stranger the better for me. But I think any reviewer would probably be wise to say this is not a movie for everybody – in fact Kuso is probably something that will be truly enjoyed by a small minority. Surreal, hilarious, artistic, sickening, energetic, twisted, intense, discombobulating – Kuso is all this and much more.
RATING: 9/10. If I were reaching for one word to described Kuso, it would probably be wild. This is a group of filmmakers well and truly let loose to create something that makes no concessions to its viewers or the film industry it is a part of. It is gross – not as gross as some movies we have watched, although Royal the Boil was a singularly queasy moment – but it is a flat-out assault in the sense with its off-the-wall imagery and mini stories it tells. I might have to watch it a few more times to be sure, but it might just be genius and I think is bound to gain a real cult status in years to come. I enjoyed it heartily, and although it certainly isn't a movie for everyone, it was undoubtedly a movie for me. One of the craziest rides ever here at Film Gutter and worthy of a great 9/10.