Kuso (Ellison, 2017)

Look, I give points to Kuso mastermind Flying Lotus for putting something like this out there. It’s so outré for a film, reveling with Bacchanalian frenzy in the mire of the abject that makes body horror the flesh-crawling experience that it is. Kuso exists in a post-apocalyptic future, after an earthquake devastates Los Angeles and presumably unleashes mass amounts of radiation. A group of four vignettes details the aftereffects, where human skin becomes plagued by scabs and scars, boils mutate and begin to talk, lifesaving creatures live up people’s anuses, interdimensional creatures smoke bongs and watch snuff films, women fly through psychedelic tunnels, and human heads start growing out of weird mouth creatures after they are fed feces. It’s hard to believe I’m not making this up, but there it is.

If this is the grossest film ever made, though, it’s also quite dull. That’s the barefaced truth of it. This is material best packaged in small doses, which would heighten the shock value and make it last. Conversely, Kuso’s feature-length status dilutes it heavily, stripping away the element of surprise from even the darkest recesses of these nightmarish tableaus so that you come to be numbed by their grotesqueries. In the end, I’d say only four or five moments managed to give me the deranged deliriousness that I craved, with “Sock” and “Smear” being most representative of that quality (though both still had their own flaws). As for the more comic “Royal” and “Mr. Quiggle,” they’re fun overall, though the comedy utilised here is not really to my taste. That bizarre scene at the clinic for instance, which involves a transgender receptionist “becoming” a sex doll, simply goes on for too long with very little in terms of payoff.

Who would I recommend this to? Hard to say. Those who like their body horror with an excess of extremities will take to it, and maybe those who like getting high in order to watch surrealist fare will find Kuso especially oneiric. Otherwise, I didn’t think it was as provocative as it wanted to be.