Studio: Severin Films
Director: Andres Torres
Writer: Toni Comas, Andres Torres
Producer: Ziyad Saadi, Andres Torres
Stars: Jon Wachter, Theodore Bouloukos, Kathy Biehl, Kara Peterson, Adrienne Gori, Tina Tanzer, Marseille Morillo, Teena Byrd, Saoko Okano
Warped dreams of becoming a professional photographer drive an unusual hotdog vendor to murder his models.
“It’s like” can be a really tacky way to describe a movie. But you have to play that game when talking about “Bag Boy Lover Boy” because it is such a bizarre little flick, there is no more efficient way to provide useful information for factoring if it might fit a particular person’s tastes.
“Bag Boy Lover Boy” is what happens when a sleazy exploitation thriller impregnates an experimental arthouse indie. Picture Frank Henenlotter and John Waters trying to collaborate on a Larry Fessenden-like microbudget mumblecore horror movie.
It’s like the cinematic equivalent of a cheap circus sideshow oddity. You grin at it awkwardly for a while before walking away still staring with a side eye, thinking it was probably worth the three bucks for a quick fix of unusual entertainment, although you’re not quite sure how to morally feel about what on earth you just witnessed or contributed to.
NYC hotdog vendor Albert has the beanpole body of an adolescent boy, the terrible teeth of a mush-mouth man in need of an orthodontist, and the seemingly slow wit of an oblivious bumpkin fresh off a turnip truck from “Deliverance.” In spite of these facts or because of them, hotshot photographer Ivan thinks he has discovered the art star scene’s next top model.
Albert’s interest lies on the other side of the lens, as he hopes to impress regular customer Lexy by becoming a photography pro himself. But modeling beats taking tongs to frankfurters fallen on the floor, so Albert accepts Ivan’s offer to step inside his sexually-charged studio.
Next thing he knows, Albert is covered in fake blood and pretending to strangle women wearing plastic bags on their heads per Ivan’s fetish photo shoot specs. This S&M stimulation takes Albert’s already unhealthy masturbation fantasies and perverts them into a murderous reality. After Ivan jets overseas for a big gig, Albert appropriates the studio space for photo sessions of his own involving a hooker, a drunk girl, even the object of his affection. When they don’t follow his camera directions explicitly, demanding auteur Albert gets the results he wants by suffocating his models for real.
The preceding summary may sound straightforward, but “Bag Boy Lover Boy” is anything but. The film looks cheaply made, though that becomes part of the charm as satirical subtext, a fair bit of which may be unintentional, complements shabby chic style for a uniquely odd duck experience.
Jon Wachter, who plays Albert, never acted in a feature before, which is painfully evident every time he is onscreen. Passionless dialogue delivery through a droning drawl induces cringes until a realization dawns that Wachter’s discomfort mirrors Albert’s awkwardness. Wachter’s mumbling, bumbling performance emerges as something terribly amateurish yet amazingly appropriate, precisely what the role calls for. If an award existed that was half-Razzie and half-Oscar, Jon Wachter would win it easily.
For a first-time feature filmmaker, Andres Torres does a terrific job tuning everything into the same weird wavelength. Theodore Bouloukos synchs Ivan as the yin to Albert’s yang with wonderfully nonchalant flair. There is a hint of “who cares?” from Bouloukos, and from the film in general, that actually works to add a loose touch of attitude. The premise’s vague purpose and somewhat sloppy execution is simultaneously slick, sick, and yes, stupid. The movie seemingly knows this however, playing everyone and everything with a seriousness that somehow accentuates the silliness.
With cannibalism, necrophilia, and sexual assault stirred into the mix of improvised Zen filmmaking, “Bag Boy Lover Boy” doesn’t cook a palatable meal for a demanding or easily offended audience. It can be darkly brutal in disgusting ways, yet still goofily funny by being a parody of the very kind of movie it is.
Reflect back on the earlier “it’s likes,” then proceed with caution before unwrapping this weirdo package. Also consider tempering that caution with curiosity, because you don’t want to miss “Bag Boy Lover Boy” if its peculiar absurdness might bowl a strike up your alley.
Review Score: 65