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Abruptio – Grimmfest 2023 (Film Review)

2 min read

This piece was written during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labour of the actors currently on strike, the movie being covered here wouldn't exist.

This year's season has seen a varied smorgasbord of delights, from gory comedies to heartbreaking lamentations on grief, masterful animated pieces, and epic biopics. But of the thousands of films dazzling critics on the circuit this year, there is surely no weirder or wilder film than .

Directed by Blood Rush and Horror House's Evan Marlowe, the bizarre, sickening film features the voices of horror heavyweights Jordan Peele, Robert Englund, James Marsters, Christopher McDonald, Hana Mae Lee, Rich Fulcher, and the late, great, Sid Haig in what would be his final role.

In the weird and wonderful world of Abruptio filled with life-sized puppets, we follow Les Hackel, a man down on his luck who discovers he has been implanted with an explosive device in his neck. In order to stay alive he must engage in a number of increasingly disturbing and heinous crimes while uncovering the mastermind behind the device while simultaneously stumbling upon the collapse of society and an alien invasion.

Screening at this year's and set to entertain the audience at Cine-Excess, Abruptio is a wonderfully psychedelic slice of horror that takes virtually every trope of the genre and smashes it into one visual assault that is somehow equal parts charming and repulsive. Every horrifying, unimaginable act or idea you may come across in a 1950s B-movie or brutal blockbuster hit can be found in the world of Abruptio, and it turns out to be troublingly real and all experienced by one man.

Marsters' sharp wit made him a much-loved staple of Buffy The Vampire Slayer as antagonist Spike, and this is present throughout Abruptio as he stumbles through life as Hackel, a man thrust into a life of mindless violence and conspiracy theories. He meets a wild array of oddballs on his quest for vengeance, including failed comedian Sal (Haig) and social outcast Mr Salk (Englund) whose attitudes toward their vengeful tasks differ wildly.

The eerie latex puppets used to tell the story add to the comic value laced between the mayhem, heightening the gleefully absurdist tone that feels almost hallucinogenic at times. However, these life-sized models do not detract from the horror that unfolds in the narrative which is, at parts, genuinely disturbing and gratuitous.

Abruptio is not simply a story of hacking, slashing, and exploding as it cooly critiques our notion of a moral compass, love, loss, and survival instinct while starkly reminding us that, just like real life, there are no truly happy endings. This a film that will really make you sit and ask, ‘What on Earth did I just watch?' for all the right reasons as it takes you on a no-holds-barred thrill ride into the darkest heart of horror.

Abruptio screened at on Sunday, October 8. It will be screened at Cine-Excess 2023 on October 27, 2023.