Directed By: Jacob Vaughan
Written By: Jacob Vaughan and Benjamin Hayes
Starring: Ken Marino, Gillian Jacobs, Patrick Warburton, Peter Stormare, Kumail Nanjiani, Mary Kay Place
Sometimes you really have to poop. This is a fact, and I don’t care who you are. Sometimes you call that poop monstrous. Sometimes you see Bad Milo and swear you will never ever use that adjective to describe anything that comes out of your butt ever again. If that was too much butt stuff for you, just stop reading. This is a movie about butt stuff. It is impossible for me to write about this movie without referencing poop and butts . . . A lot. Directed by Jacob Vaughan, who also wrote the film along with Benjamin Hayes, the film manages to avoid being an endless stream of poop jokes. This is a shock. After all, it’s a film about a monster that lives in Ken Marino’s butt.
Marino plays Duncan, a well-meaning accountant with serious gastrointestinal issues. Bad Milo opens on a terrified Duncan, but quickly transitions to what appears to be a sonogram. It is, I guess, but not in the traditional sense. Instead of a lady’s tummy getting jelled up and scanned, it’s Duncan on the table. On the screen, we see a very ominous shape, but the doctor reassures Duncan and his wife Sarah (the always excellent Gillian Jacobs) that it’s just a polyp, albeit one in a worrisome shape. The doctor tells Duncan to avoid stressful situations, and it should settle down in a week. Meanwhile, at work, Duncan is moved from accounting to human resources (by his incredibly obnoxious boss Phil (Patrick Warburton)); the justification being ostensibly to provide a friendly face for the coming wave of layoffs. Along with the new job he’s also given a new office. It’s in the bathroom. Along with his new partner Allistair (Erik Charles Nielsen) Duncan sits on a toilet and compiles profiles for employees to be fired.
After work, Duncan joins Sarah for dinner with his mother (Mary Kay Place) and stepdad (Kumail Nanjiani). The dinner table conversation quickly turns to children and fertility, a situation that is exacerbated by the arrival of the special guest – a fertility doctor who goes by the name Dr. Yip. Between the overt affection shared by Nanjiani and Place, the introduction of Dr. Yip, and Allistair’s incompetence at work things are very stressful for Duncan. That night when he goes to sleep, something escapes from his body. That thing goes after Allistair, and in the morning we learn of his fate. If it isn’t clear, Allistair dies.
Taking Sarah’s advice, Duncan begins seeing a therapist. Dr. Highsmith (Peter Stormare) tries to comfort Duncan, and again tells him to avoid stressful situations. Eventually, in that office we see Milo for the first time. The little monstrous ET looking dude emerges from Duncan’s butt and flees the building. This time we are granted a look at Milo’s POV, and it is weird. We are also granted the most distressing visual sequence of the whole movie. It is gross, in the best, most Troma-y way. The gore in this movie is perfect. It escalates well, and only really comes up sometimes, and always at the right times. The same is true of the poop/butt stuff. The only majorly recurring scatological jab is the hilarious sounds Duncan makes while ejecting or accepting Milo.
The movie proceeds along this pattern for most of the duration. Milo acts out Duncan’s subconscious rage against his various enemies. Eventually this obviously becomes too much for Duncan, and he has to stop the butt monster. This sounds like something Lloyd Kaufmann dreamt up back in the 1980s, but it’s real and it’s now, and it works. Marino plays Duncan just right. The supporting cast is excellent, and the script is very well balanced. Bad Milo is clearly influenced by the horror classic Basket Case as well as the masterful X-Files episode Humbug. In this case, a monster that lives in someone’s ass replaces the creepy twin thing, but the concept is the same. In all three, the monster represents an unrepressed id that needs to be reigned in, but is also the result of a repressed personality, maybe even an anal retentive personality. This movie is as high concept as toilet humor gets, and it is executed exquisitely.