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SOFT MATTER (2018))
Directed by Jim Hickcox
Written by Jim Hickcox
Starring Ruby Lee Dove II, Hal Schneider, Mary Anzalone, Devyn Placide, Mark Blumberg, Catherine Grady, David Dillard, Sam Stinson, Mykal Monroe, Bradley Creel, Ruby Epkins, Michael Roberson, June Burnum, Makena Buchanan
I really liked this wonky little number dealing with mad science, alternate dimensions, modern art, and altogether kookiness. SOFT MATTER is a low budgeter, but despite that fact it’s an odd little nugget and worth taking a look at if you like odd little films.
A pair of doctors continue to run their unethical experiments to become immortal even though the hospital around them has lost it’s funding and closed. The two doctors attempt to retain their sanity while checking in and keeping their patients relatively alive, though few of them resemble human beings anymore. One simply looks like a pile of moving organs. Another looks like a gooey trashbag who tends to bust out some dance moves when he gets extra lively. Also in this story is a street artist trying to go legit named Haircut (Devyn Placide) and his manager Kish (Ruby Lee Dove II) who has a curly moustache tattoed above her lip are trying to get the attention of the city’s biggest art critics by setting up an installation inside of the same abandoned hospital that the scientists are conducting their experiments. Extracting elements from lobsters and other sea creatures in their studies angers a sea-god who manifests inside a mop bucket and goes on a rampage coinciding with the artist’s big opening. Got all that?
So from the description above, one can tell that SOFT MATTER is not your typical horror film. It is full of some pretty fantastic gore and effects. At times, it’s even quite nauseating in the level of grossness on display. But it’s the overall tone of SOFT MATTER that makes it so much fun. There’s a looney kind of self-aware aloofness that shows up pretty much all the way through this film. While the scientists are serious about their work, there’s a wonky aesthetic to everything from the experiments themselves, to their odd methods of taking care of their patients. There is also a deft commentary on modern art and the pretentiousness of the modern art scene that feels on the nose, as well as some moments of sheer imagination such as a flashback using puppets, an animated story about a sea turtle, and all sorts of neon lighting, dance numbers, and electronica music. The retro-vibe going on throughout this film is something that will bring a smile to those alive during that gaudy, neon-lit era.
Then again, if you’re the serious type and don’t like steps outside of the norm, then SOFT MATTER may be a bit infuriating for you. SOFT MATTER makes fun of the genre, but also laughs with it. This film describes itself as THE SHAPE OF WATER meets GET OUT, but I honestly don’t see the comparison. Yes the Sea God looks like the Amphibian Man and there are two prominent African American characters, but that’s where the three of these films end in similarity. More accurately, SOFT MATTER feels like a love letter to Peter Jackson’s BAD TASTE mixed with some commentary on the shallowness of modern art. I had a blast with the way that this one knows how goofy it is and still manages to be imaginative and fun.
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