[Movie Review] HOLY SHIT!
[Movie Review] HOLY SHIT!
HOLY SHIT! l Screambox
Editor’s Note: This review of Holy Shit! contains some spoilers

Ah, the portapotty, a corporeal nightmare of the modern world. What is more viscerally horrific than a giant plastic box with limited circulation in which one can not only smell but also see in lurid detail the combined blood, shit, and piss of several strangers? For those who would like to explore the depths of their fear regarding these claustrophobic contraptions, boy do I have a film for you. From the bowels of Lukas Rinker comes HOLY SHIT!, a German comedy-thriller about an architect stuck inside an upturned porta potty on an active demolition site. Clocking in at exactly ninety minutes, the film leans fully into the silliness of its premise, sprinkling droplets of campy toilet humor amidst cheek-clenching survival drama.

Largely a one-man show, HOLY SHIT! is carried by the performance of TV actor, Thomas Niehaus, who excellently portrays our doomed architect Frank. With one arm pinned down by a piece of metal scaffolding, Frank’s range of motion is severely limited as he gathers his bearings and attempts to escape. The suspense, though predictable, is revealed gradually through environmental context clues, occasional flashbacks, and ongoing narration of the site demolition by Horst, Frank’s business partner and (spoiler-alert) nemesis.

Horst and his continual monologue are certainly a highlight of the film, striking the comically evil tone of a Scooby-Doo villain. Played by Gedeon Burkhard (who viewers may recognize as one of the basterds from Tarantino’s iconic nazi-killing flick), Horst takes great drunken pleasure in counting down the minutes until the demolition, all the while diabolically taunting Frank and his efforts to escape. It’s a wonder none of the onlookers suspect anything with how pointed his comments are, but hey, this is not a film that demands such scrutiny.

Courtesy Screambox

Rinker’s camerawork is snappy and visceral, placing us firmly within Frank’s perspective as he uncovers new clues and struggles to maintain his sanity while managing the pain from his skewered arm. We learn more about Frank’s life, including his prioritization of work over his wife Marie, and his conflict with an environmental activist who opposed his latest architectural venture. His situation then begins to represent a purgatorial reckoning for his misdeeds, and Frank vows to make amends once he escapes. Psychologically aiding him is his subconscious, personified by a sardonic disembodied voice emanating from a toilet lid.

As the clock ticks on, his escape attempts become both more creative and more desperate. Rinker has a knack for finding physical humor and irony in Frank’s various attempts, which break up both the monotony and the relentless gore of the singular set piece. At Frank’s disposal are his watch, the contents of his briefcase, a pickaxe he conveniently finds in his pocket (perhaps, a staple item for architects?), his phone (which fell inside the toilet and is covered in shit), a tape measure, some soap, and a first aid kit attached to the wall of the porta potty. The action teeters on the edge of realism and situational convenience, with notable attempts involving a hungry rabbit roaming around outside the potty as well as the world’s most flammable pair of pants.

With Frank’s time (and my patience) rapidly wearing thin, the film builds plausible tension up until the cartoonish climax, which forgoes any remaining semblance of realism and opts fully for comedic shock value. Delivering twist after labored twist, Rinker seems determined to subvert expectations or cliches. Frank experiences some resolution regarding his relationship with his wife, and a modicum of vengeance is delivered to Horst, but despite this, the ending fails to provide the relief that survival dramas inherently demand when putting their viewers through so much pain. However, I can’t say that HOLY SHIT! is a complete waste. Indeed, my buttcheeks were sufficiently clenched. Let’s just hope that next time, Rinker remembers to not only flush the toilet but spray some air freshener too.

You can stream HOLY SHIT! on March 21st on SCREAMBOX on iOS, Android, Prime Video, Roku, YouTube TV, Samsung, Comcast, Cox, and Screambox.com.

Vidya Palepu
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