Imagine putting your best friend’s film thesis, a satanic elegy on society, and your dad’s goth phase music in a blender. Now imagine you’ve lightly roasted that concoction in the oven at exactly 66F for about 6 minutes. Whatever comes out is Dakota Bailey’s The Acid Sorcerer.
A bleak take on street life in Denver, The Acid Sorcerer is a string of aimless, terror tales at best and an overly wrought adventure through “edgy” nihilism at worst. In a series of vignettes, we’re introduced to Smoke (Bailey) and his evil half, Leech. Leech is Smoke’s Id, pushing him to violence, consumption and vice in between monologues about evil, violence and how there is no salvation. While Smoke is out killing and getting high, we veer off to meet Ronny The Roach (Larry Bay), a drug dealer who enjoys snuff films; Nikki (Nick Benning) the trans woman who makes them, and a strung out couple–Crawdad (Darien Fawkes) and Vermina (Natasha Morgan)–whose shoe-string romance ends in ways that are just as murderous as so many others in the film.
“…a droning, untethered experience that’s akin to a really long nightmare.”
From its grayscale palette to its focus on murderous low lifes, The Acid Sorcerer shares quite a bit with the noir-exploitation mashup, Sin City. However, The Acid Sorcerer is something of a punk take on Sin City’s aesthetic, pushing the boundary of what’s plausibly enjoyable and watchable while having a pretty clear through-line of thought and logic: humans are innately sucky and when left to our own devices, we’ll probably end up killing each other for petty purposes.
In each movement of the film, Bailey doesn’t want us to forget this, wielding his rhetorical hammer with gusto and stylish flair. If it weren’t for the content, this can often be nearly comedic. For instance, when Nikki murders a sex worker, rock music plays and crescendos, climaxing with Nikki’s own near-orgasmic cackling. On the surface it’s simply absurd, but it’s definitely an intentional sting that’s used repeatedly in nearly every murder scene, across characters. Whether for dramatic effect or meta-commentary, I’m not sure. But, in either case, it’s effective in waking you up. For, despite its often graphic content, much of The Acid Sorcerer is a droning, untethered experience that’s akin to a really long nightmare.
“From its grayscale palette to its focus on murderous low lifes, The Acid Sorcerer shares quite a bit with the noir-exploitation mashup, Sin City.”
Bailey rebukes mainstream filmmaking, saying “I feel that as an underground filmmaker, I have more freedom & liberties than as opposed to what I would have if I was a mainstream filmmaker.” And while The Acid Sorcerer itself builds upon some of his past projects, it’s clear that it’s still not the pinnacle he hopes to reach.
The Acid Sorcerer (2017) Directed by Dakota Bailey. Written by Dakota Bailey. Starring Dakota Bailey, Larry Bay, Nick Benning, Darien Fawkes, Natasha Morgan, Selene Velveteen.
2 out of 5 leech speeches