For the most part I try not to deal with movies that are fairly recent. There are exceptions here and there, like I Care A Lot, but I try to give a movie at least a couple years before so much as watching it much less writing it up. Sometimes, though, events conspire in such a way as to make a particular title unavoidable.
Such is the case with the visceral, jaw-dropping 2020 movie The Special which I watched for the first time last night. See, in the process of writing yesterday’s Most Beautiful Island post, I looked up some stuff on IMDB, and there, under More Like This, sandwiched between Demon (which I’ve seen) and Sandpaper (which I haven’t) was The Special. It was the tagline, “Fatal Attraction meets The Blob” that sold me.
It seems The Special has flown way under folkses’s radar so far, and I gotta say right up front that it most assuredly ain’t for everyone. I hasten to add that if you have not seen The Special and find yourself curious, stop reading Right. Now. I went into this movie cold, and I can scarce overstate what a fine decision that was. Even the poster gives away more than I’d like (I managed to find one that didn’t). That said, I’ll also be diving in soon with some spoilers.
First off, if Cronenberg-style body horror ain’t your thang, then don’t even bother with this. Second, when I say visceral, I’m not just visceralin’ Dixie. Oh there’s plenty of blood, slime, and oozy drippy ick to goo around, especially in the final set piece. But it don’t take long, y’see, for Jerry to establish himself as a self-absorbed, condescending, misogynistic dickbag (literally, as time goes on), and as such he delivers some gut-punch relationship moments as well.
Right, so, during an evening of drinking, Jerry’s friend Mike reveals that Jerry’s wife Lisa cheated on him. This may or may not be true. Mike further suggests it’s a moral imperative for Jerry to respond in kind, so he takes Jerry to Madame Zhora, a psychic whose business is a front for prostitution. There Jerry meets Zhora’s 3 comely sex workers, Erin, Nada, and Syn. Mike, however, points out that none of them are “the special” for which Jerry is here.
This “special,” it turns out, is a wooden box with a hole in it, much like a bird house, kind of a variation on the glory hole idea. All one is required to do is insert one’s phallus into said box and receive the greatest, most mindblowingest sexual experience of one’s life. Kind of appropriate since, for lotsa of dudes, that’s all a vagina (or “box” to use some bygone yet extant vulgar parlance) is for.
Well wouldn’t y’know, the encounter doesn’t go to plan, and Jerry ends up passing out. He’s carried to Mike’s car by the very imposing bouncer Ivan and Mike. Madame Zhora warns Mike never to bring Jerry back and delivers the cryptic but it turns out prophetic line “He is what it wants.”
If I have any complaints about The Special, it’s the sound. One might even go so far as to call it mumblecore horror–mumblecorror? On the other hand, if you turn the captions on, you get to see [squelching] pop up at the bottom of the screen a good many times. Me, I think it adds to what is already some superblack comedy going on here.
Ultimately, that’s what The Special is. How could it not be? It hinges on the not completely inaccurate cliché that most men will fuck anything. Along those lines, guy gets off fucking a box, turns his life upside down to be with it, lavishes more attention on it than on his wife, neglects his job, and ultimately becomes one (in a way) with the very thing he desires.
Like I said yesterday, I’m sure much can be made in terms of subtext here, especially as it concerns misogyny, male power, addiction, sexuality, risky behavior, fidelity, and obsession. As for “Fatal Attraction meets The Blob,” I mean, it’s not INaccurate. But a better description might be soft-core porn meets Lovecraft meets The Fly meets It Follows meets Liquid Sky. Come to think of it, there may be some weird shades of Little Shop Of Horrors in here as well. Dudes…ugh.
BODIES- 4 onscreen (well, almost 4)
Stream- Prime, Tubi
Rent- Google Play, Vudu, YouTube