I’ll start by saying that story-wise, The Special is a strong and solid story. Our protagonist Jerry is slowly driven made by physical and sexual pleasure coming from whatever it is in that box. He’s willing to give up everything and do almost anything to sustain that pleasure. To do this, he has to dive deeper and deeper into the secret of The Special. The ending is particularly good and creepy, and writers Newman and Steenslan nailed it.
Now, the big “But!” As good as the story is, the movie, as a whole, misses a lot of opportunities to be great. In a way, I think the filmmakers assume that if they present the idea that our minds would do the rest. But what you can do with performances can elevate what’s in our mind and make the experience much more creepy and horrifying.
“When you actually see what The Special is, you immediately go back to his first encounter with it and it all makes sense.”
I’ll just cite the basic premise as an example of the film’s problem. The idea is, what horrible things can happen when a dude sticks his dick in a mysterious hole? For the average guy, holding one’s penis inside of something that not one of two very familiar places comes with a great deal of trepidation. In The Special, Jerry goes ahead and sticks his dick in the unknown hole, but what should have happened was for the film to play up that trepidation. We should feel the fear and uncertainty of every second as the tip of his wang slowly inches toward the dark vacuous hole. Our weenies should have shriveled inside our groinal regions, long before Jerry got his in the box.
Now when the dick has fully engorged itself and is being serviced by whatever is in that thing, we should feel and see three emotions on Jerry’s face, intense pleasure, horrific pain, and dizzying confusions as his schlong is going through the sexual wringer. In the film, Jerry’s reaction is around a level five or six, it’s should have been cranked to eleven. You can do all this without spending any extra money.
This is true for the reminder of Jerry interactions with The Special and with those who become obstacles to The Special. I will say, the ending images are perfect. I loved what ultimately happens to Jerry and to The Special at the very end. When you actually see what The Special is, you immediately go back to his first encounter with it and it all makes sense.
I ultimately liked The Special, and for me, who doesn’t usually review horror, it means something if I’m not particularly scared at the end. It means that ultimately the thrills and chills were not thrilly and chilly enough.