Fantastic Film Festival Movie Review: THE GREASY STRANGLER (2016)

If there were awards for the most bizarre film I’ve seen all year, shit maybe the past few years, it would go to THE GREASY STRANGLER.  I can say without a shadow of a doubt that this was one of the strangers, most uncomfortable, yet highly entertaining films I have seen this past year and as I write this review, I’m still not entirely sure if I love the film or hate it. THE GREASY STRANGLER centers around Ronnie (Michael St. Michael) and his son Brayden (Sky Elobar) who run a Disco walking tour.  During one of their tours, they meet the beautiful Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo), and a feud forms between father and son which awakens the arrival of an oily strangler set out to destroy the lives of those around them.

That’s quite literally the best description I can come up with for this film.  Is this film a horror movie?  Not necessarily, though some would argue that because it deals with a serial killer it could be, but in reality this is definitely a dark comedy with aspects of horror and deaths sprinkled throughout.  As I watched the film, I couldn’t help but notice how disgusted I was with the characters and the plot that was being played out; however, in my disgust, I realized I was also enjoying the film.  It was a weird feeling to have, this juxtaposition between such extreme reactions, but looking back I can’t remember a time when I had such a dueling match of feelings towards a film.

The premise of the film really centers around the relationship that Ronnie and his son Brayden have.  Their relationship is nothing short of strained yet childish.  Brayden is a grown adult who still lives with his father and is always at his beck and call, especially when it comes to how greasy he wants his food.  When Brayden meets the stunning Janet, he quickly falls in love with her to the disdain of his father.  To get back at his son, Ronnie makes it his mission to get Janet to fall for him.  The family dynamics are dysfunctional and weird, to the point of being uncomfortable, but I found myself getting more involved with their lives as the story went along.  During the unfolding of this plot, there is still the raging, over-the-top killings at the hands of the greasy strangler.  This individual, whose identity we learn rather early on, covers his naked body in grease (think of Superman’s transition from Clark Kent only with much more grease and no cape) and goes out at night to kill those who have wronged him.  It’s ridiculous and at times disgusting, especially since his love for all things greasy has no bounds; I even found myself turning away because I couldn’t handle how much grease was being used everywhere.

What really makes this film shine though is the acting.  Michael St. Michael and Sky Elobar played off of each other perfectly and were able to make their characters seem incredibly realistic.  They are what made the film so enjoyable and I can’t help but admit that they made me laugh out loud a few times (especially Michael St. Michael’s random dance scene in the middle of the movie).  Another stellar performance was by actress Elizabeth De Razzo who played Janet.  I absolutely loved everything about her and her role.  Not only was she hilarious, she fed into the same awkwardness that was shown from both her counterparts.  I adored her scenes, loved her confidence, and truly believe she is a star in the making.

Overall, THE GREASY STRANGLER, is unlike anything I’ve seen before.  I think, at the end of the day, I really enjoyed this movie, but it was just so bizarre and uncomfortable that it left me scratching my head while simultaneously making me laugh and turn away in disgust.  The only thing that I think I could compare this film to would be the early works of Jon Waters.  What I like most about this film is that it’s not safe, it’s not PC and it doesn’t apologize for that.  Would I watch this film again, probably, as it’s unique to what else is out there in the cinema world, and I would probably recommend this to friends who are looking for something that goes against the grain.  All in all, I guess THE GREASY STRANGLER got me and I really did enjoy this film.

Shannon McGrew
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