Dir. Addison Binek (2020)
A huge ape escapes from the Detroit Zoo (roughly 25 years ago) and wreaks havoc!
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Is a movie categorized as bad if it knows its bad and leans into the pitch? If the movie is made to be bad? It’s plainly apparent that the filmmakers made this movie not only knowing it was going to be bad, but intending it to be bad. It’s stupid, irreverent, and cheap. But, it’s funny, and every person in this film is giving it 100%. It’s indie film at its finest, a taut parody film that riffs on so many classics its hard to name all of them. After seeing so many films like this that weren’t intended to be like this, it’s a breath of fresh air to come across one that knows exactly what it has and buys into it for all its worth. After an ape escapes from the zoo, it crashes a teenage slumber party, murdering all of the partygoers with a banana. Well… all but one of them, the ape-obsessed Nancy, who ruminates with her friends about what it would be like to have sex with an ape, and how apes would make the perfect boyfriend. Sound dumb as hell? Yep! But the movie fully embraces it, announcing on the Star Wars-esque rolling opening that the movie is the dumbest ape film ever made. It’s a huge mix of different genres, and while it’s clearly a comedy, it’s got a mix of gore (albeit silly), beach movie, and even some references to The Shawshank Redemption and Midnight Cowboy. It delivers on all of them, especially the comedy. So many micro-budget indie movies have a sense of humor that is clearly filled with in-jokes that the audience simply doesn’t get. This one works incredibly well, though, and the jokes are legitimately funny more often than not. It’s modeled after Halloween, which I can appreciate as well. There’s a Dr. Loomis character named Dr. ZOOmis (emphasis theirs), who is so devoted to catching the Psycho Ape that he writes a rap song about it. It jumps into the present-day, where the Psycho Ape is living in his own apartment and sees himself on the Low Budget News. This is followed by the most juvenile toilet humor I’ve seen in a while, which… is somehow perfectly at home in the film. The effects are truly godawful, clearly digitally added in post, and the sound misses as often as it hits. The plot is practically nonexistent, as the Psycho Ape just goes around murdering random people around town with no rhyme or reason. The acting is atrocious; in one scene, a woman who has just had her hand cut off by the Ape smiles and tells him to keep his damn dirty paws off her magazine. There are weird, 70’s style scene transitions with Nancy and ZOOmis go-go dancing in front of a tie-dye background. The only reason these aren’t random scenes thrown together completely is due to the News segments that briefly let us know (roughly) what’s going on. Once Psycho Ape finds his way back to Nancy, his soulmate, the film finds its stride, becoming a weird Silence of the Lambs/Benny Hill mix. Characters that Psycho Ape murders randomly come back in various scenes, with Dr. ZOOmis biting the dust at least three times. But, whatever, it works. This is either the worst or the greatest movie I’ve ever seen, and I’m not entirely sure which. It’s dumb as hell, has zero real plot, and nothing to tie the random scenes together. But, the gore is decent and it’s funny. I mean, that’s clearly all that the filmmakers were going for, and they hit it? So… Mission accomplished? This film clearly has a market, and the general public is not it. But it’s entertaining, and it’s like watching a banana-fueled acid trip filled with more monkey than you can shake a stick at. The film points out, via Ratatouille, that while not everyone can create art, everyone can cook. Apparently, everyone can make a film as well, as long as they have a camera and people willing to be in the film. Yet I’m mystified, because… it works? Damned if I know how it works, but goddamnit, it works? King Kong ain’t got nothin’ on Psycho Ape! Who this film is for: Ultra-low budget film fans, Monkey movie stans, People who think Ratatouille is better than Toy Story Bottom line: Go see it? I think? It’s an indie horror comedy with some actually excellent gore, and you get the impression the only reason that the after-effects are added is because they couldn’t afford to replicate the effects throughout the entire film. It’s weird, it’s meta, and it’s truly funny at times. It’s also quite possibly the dumbest movie I’ve ever seen. If you like movies that are dumb as shit but will make you laugh, Psycho Ape! is right up your alley.