Things turn ugly for a small town when a new pharmaceutical is given to patients at the local mental hospital. Instead of finding calm, the patients react violently, turning into bloodthirsty cannibals. When they escape, no one is safe, especially not Pell (Matt Rouillard), who can add “being chased by cannibals” to his list of “reasons my life sucks.”
Moonsmilers is a short film that is more notable for its moments of bad taste violence than for any element of the narrative. As the website for the production company, Bloody Hammer Films, states, this is another one of their “Films Not For Children.” Copious amounts of blood, some nudity and offensive scenarios abound.
Though for as offensive as things get, there’s also a silliness to the entire endeavor. For example, if I were to tell you that an infant gets thrown in a dumpster, and then gets ripped apart by cannibalistic elderly women, you’d probably be appalled, and rightfully so. If I then told you that the infant in question is very obviously a doll, then the absurdity of the entire situation becomes more apparent. It’s one of a few moments in the film where you can’t help but remove yourself from watching a movie to laughing at the idea of filming that scene, especially when fake blood is so obviously being thrown from off camera on to the faces of these maniacal geriatrics.
Silliness aside, though, it’s still plenty offensive, and it’s not even the most offensive thing that happens in this film (the filmmakers could arguably change their production motto to “Films Against Children” after this one). When it comes to the violence, the film repeatedly ups the stakes for how odious things are going to get. Well, to a point.
The film is both buoyed and hindered by its use of practical effects. In its best moments, the practical effects are utilized in a way that makes everything more disturbing and visceral. In its worst moments, you have the fake baby doll that garners more of a chuckle than a gasp. That being said, due to some other moments of overt comedy in the film, you get the feeling the mix of gruesome and giggle is on purpose.
Unfortunately, for me, that mix isn’t balanced properly. Instead, it often comes across as unintentional humor because there needs to be more of a consistent comical flow. As it is, there’s more laughing at than with.
In the end, there are some memorably horrific moments in Moonsmilers, but the overall endeavor is pretty forgettable. There is an attempt at narrative and character development, but just barely, and really to no appreciable effect. Credit is due for making some bold choices to show some audaciously offensive scenarios, and when the practical effects work, they work great, but this one didn’t entirely work as a whole. Individual moments are ludicrous and fun, but overall the film seems like an excuse to show something upsetting, and little else.
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