Last month, Damien Leone pushed on just about every limit available with his sequel, Terrifer 2. Halloween may be over, but the horror genre rolls on. And this week, indie filmmaker Alex Phillips’ All Jacked Up and Full Of Worms arrives on Screambox and other VOD platforms. Apparently, it’s not just the title that got people’s attention at film festivals. Phillip’s feature-length debut promises some pretty grotesque and offensive imagery itself. While it’s a small indie effort, a handful of critics seem mildly impressed with the psychedelic mix of horror and comedy.
Several patrons and employees of a sleazy hotel escape into sex and violence after they ingest hallucinogenic worms.
All Jacked Up and Full of Worms Aims to Shock With Psychedelic Grotesqueries
There really isn’t much else to say about All Jacked Up and Full of Worms. This DIY indie effort represents writer and director Alex Phillips feature-length debut. And it’s literally about people getting ‘jacked up’ on hallucinogenic worms. Just because. Don’t expect any driving narrative here. Instead, Phillips adopts a ‘day-in-life’ approach that almost randomly follows a handful of very strange people whose lives all revolve around a seedy motel to some extent. When Phillips introduces us to Benny, he’s an aspiring father signing for a package that turns out to be a baby doll. Except the doll isn’t for prospective parents; it’s a sex doll with a gaping mouth. Later in the movie, Benny attempts to use the doll in a public place. That all but sums up the ‘shock and awe’ tactics that define All Jacked Up and Full Of Worms.
And it’s literally about people getting ‘jacked up’ on hallucinogenic worms. Just because.
As the narrative randomly wanders from character to character, Phillips takes audiences on an increasingly psychedelic test of nerves. There’s plenty of gross out moments that become more and more abstract and difficult to rationalize. Like the characters themselves, audiences depart on what’s an admittedly whacked out journey with its own atmosphere and vibe. On one hand, Phillips impresses with what he’s able to put on the screen with a clearly shoestring budget. Yet there’s also no real story or meaning to any of these images. That is, Phillips’ intent seems to be to shock simply for the sake of shocking.
All Jacked Up and Full Of Worms Spends a Day With Some Unsavory Characters
Several characters roam through – and periodically cross paths – in All Jacked Up and Full Of Worms. In addition to the aforementioned Benny (Trevor Dawkins), motel handyman Roscoe (Phillip Andre Botello) has hit a crossroads in his relationship with his girlfriend, Samantha. He seems to spend his days getting high wit her and some random guy on the floor of the motel rooms where he works. A pregnant prostitute who frequents the motel introduces Benny to ‘doing worms’, which technically sets what little story there is in motion. A handful of other characters come and go, including a couple wearing clown makeup. Little attention is paid to who these characters are as people. No one has any sort of arc of which to speak.
Little attention is paid to who these characters are as people.
None of the performances are technically good. But Botello and Dawkins have good chemistry and whenever they’re on screen together All Jacked Up and Full Of Worms has a bit of goofy charm. Every character in the movie is either broken in some way, seedy and unscrupulous, or all of the above. This seems to be Phillips’ intent. Why wouldn’t these people want to escape from reality by any means available? Maybe there’s a bigger commentary somewhere in the movie. It’s just not all that obvious or well-developed.
All Jacked Up and Full Of Worms Delivers On Its Title
No one’s going to accuse Alex Phillips of misleading audiences – it’s all in the title. With no discernible narrative of which to speak, All Jacked Up and Full Of Worms plays out like the drug-fueled haze embarked on by its characters. Eccentric characters do increasingly strange things for 72 minutes while drugged out on, yes, worms. Plenty of weirdness and occasionally grotesque imagery abounds. There’s enough indie quirks here to satisfy filmgoers looking for something completely different. But the window of potential viewers for this one is going to be admittedly very small.