SCHLOCK HORROR

PG: Psycho Goreman (15)

Director: Steven Kostanski
Screenplay: Steven Kostanski

Starring: Nita-Josee HannaOwen MyreMatthew Ninaber 

Review: RJ Bland

Never judge a book by its cover is a saying that undoubtedly has some truth to it. First impressions aren't always true representations of something. In life it often works and in the world of literature it also makes sense too. A lovely front cover has no bearing whatsoever on the quality contained within. For films - posters and other marketing material do much the same thing but you know what else matters? The film title itself. There are some really bad ones out there. Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, We Bought a Zoo, John Carter, Focus. Even The Thing is a pretty insipid name for a movie but in that instance the movie is SO good that they could have called it Science Fiction Film with Kurt Russell and it'd still be a masterpiece. The best titles provoke some level of curiosity, like A Clockwork Orange, or Blade Runner, whilst some excel in their sheer simplicity; Psycho, Alien etc. In rare instances, some films start out as a film title and a story is constructed around it. The title is the concept itself. Snakes on a Plane and Friday the 13th are both great examples. A film with a great title admittedly won't affect your movie going experience but it might well influence your decision to watch the thing in the first place (which let's face it, is what movie producers mainly care about anyway). So when a film called PG: Psycho Goreman hits Shudder, it's fair to say that there's going to be some interest...

 

Siblings Mimi and Luke are playing a game of 'crazyball' (a game they made up) in their garden. Luke loses and as a forfeit, has to dig a hole that his sister can bury him in (kids eh?). However after digging a few metres down, they discover a weird pink gemstone. After the hole begins to fill with a weird neon light, they decide to fill the hole back in. Problem solved right? Wrong! When they awake the next morning, Mimi and Luke follow a trail from the hole in the garden to an abandoned shoe factory. Inside, they discover the aftermath of a massacre. They also find the thing responsible for the bloodshed; a monster that looks like a cross between the Creeper (from Jeepers Creepers) and The Wishmaster. He announces himself as The Archduke of Nightmares and informs the siblings that he has been imprisoned on Earth for hundreds of years after attempting to destroy the galaxy and that they have awoken him from his slumber. Just as he is about to kill Mimi and Luke he sees that she is holding the pink gem which as it turns out, allows whoever possesses it to wield total control over him. Luke is unsure but Mimi excitedly assumes the responsibility and gives this alien monster a new name; Psycho Goreman (or PG for short). Whilst Mimi and her brother have some fun with their new found power, light years away a planetary alliance of aliens discover that PG has escaped and a noble Warrior called Pandora is sent to Earth to stop him before he resumes his trail of intergalactic destruction...

 

It's safe to say that Psycho Goreman lives up to its name. Those expecting putrid violence, schlocky effects and an irreverent tone won't be disappointed. It's a film that goes all out in its efforts to amuse and entertain and there's an almost naïve charm in the way that it bounces around from one crazy set piece to another sassy quip. Unfortunately the novelty wears off rather quickly and the laughs become less and less frequent. By the end, there's a chance you won't really give two hoots what happens. Because as Turbo Kid (2015) proved, even whacky plots need to have a relatable human through line. But instead of developing the kids at the centre of the mayhem, Psycho Goreman decides to just lean further into the absurdity of its plot.

 

It's the type of film that in a few years time, could well develop a bit of a cult following. The fusion of Troma style splatter, 80's B-movie sci-fi and juvenile comedy make it feel fresh and offbeat, despite the fact that it is mostly riffing off that was considered exploitative about forty years ago. It never takes itself seriously and that's perhaps a saving grace because the plot is beyond farcical. It doesn't have anything profound to say either, mainly because it's not interested. This blasé attitude will feel cool and smart to some but to others (ourselves included), the fact it is so abundant becomes a bit of a turn off.

 

It's also a challenge when the central character is so unlikeable. Protagonists don't have to be squeaky clean good guys (or gals) – in fact the most interesting ones are actually a bit morally ambiguous. However, bratty, spoiled kids are particularly problematic, especially when most of their dialogue sounds like it's a meme. Nita-Josee Hanna's performance is actually quite good but the character that she portrays is so grating, you spend most of the film hoping that the psychotic monster from out of space turns on her and puts an end to the little sassmouth. The family drama elements of the film fall flat as a whole too. They're an odd, undefinable bunch that illicit few laughs and no empathy.

 

The dedication to gore and practical effects are what saves PG from being a complete flop. PG himself is fantastically realised and whilst there are a whole host of other strange extra-terrestrial characters to enjoy, he's undoubtedly the pick of the bunch. He's the source of most of the laughs and violence – it's just a shame they didn't pair him up with a less obnoxious kid.

Imaginative and irreverent, Psycho Goreman will appeal to those who like their horror full of schlock. However the comedy becomes a little one-note and the lead character is so utterly jarring, that it's not half as much fun as it should be.
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