Review: ‘The Greasy Strangler’ (2016)

Disgusting and brilliant all at once.

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Not all great movies are beautiful. None less so than The Greasy Strangler, a relentlessly oily horror-comedy. Surprisingly, the schlockiest film of the last few years might also be one of the most accomplished cult sensations. This is truly a cult film in every sense: the grease is less bearable than the gore, and permeates every scene with dripping delight.

The production design is incredible. From the grey skies to the blaring disco, colour is used strikingly. Ugliness becomes woven into the film’s identity, from the unappealing bodies of the two protagonists to the ritualistic greasy murders. Even the genitals of Brayden and Big Ronnie are comically shriveled and lumpy (and forever on display). There’s an aesthetic of isolated madness – none of the residents of this small town behave ordinarily, and dialogue is stilted, repetitive and mind-numbing – like putting an ear to the wall of a lunatic asylum. And speaking of ears, the soundtrack is equally revolting, featuring odd baby-like chatter and evoking a demented nursery rhyme.

Nothing could be more appropriate for a film that is so purposefully childish. Crass humor, fart jokes and bizarre chanting abound. And yet, lurking behind this veneer of senseless absurdity is a surprisingly touching story about love, family and identity. Perhaps this is what gives “The Greasy Strangler” its edge – the poignancy of Brayden’s awkwardly lost virginity, the tragedy of Big Ronnie’s fear of loneliness. Or maybe it’s the exploding eyeballs – either would suffice. Not for the faint-hearted, The Greasy Strangler is definitely worth seeing.

Author: Faith Everard

Faith Everard is a writer, a student of film and a keen cinephile. She is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne. She is also the podcast editor for the film criticism show 'Plato's Cave' on 3RRR (102.7 FM) weekly.

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