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‘Butt Boy’ Review: Yes, This Really Is ‘Zodiac’ Meets ‘Stranger Things’ With an Anal Fetish

Director Tyler Cornack's grotesque thriller is all the more unusual because the filmmaker plays it straight.

“Butt Boy”

The very existence of a movie called “Butt Boy” outside the porn realm is almost as ridiculous as its premise, which means it’s especially unusual to find that director Tyler Cornack plays it straight. In short, “Butt Boy” finds an obsessive police investigator on the trail of a deranged serial killer type who sticks children and objects up his ass and keeps them there.

With those expectations upfront, it’s a strange wonder to find that this slick and entertaining B-movie actually musters a downright subtle, even eerie tone for much of its 100 minutes. At a certain point, that ambitious gamble becomes untenable, as the ludicrous nature of the material overshadows its self-serious air, but not before Cornack delivers a rather sophisticated potboiler infused with moody “Zodiac” and “Fight Club” energy made all the more impressive because, well, this movie exists.

The gist of “Butt Boy” revolves around a boring office drone named Chip (Cornack, disheveled and dazed for much of the running time) whose drab office routine and bland home life are upended when a prostate massage leads him to a newfound fetish. “Butt Boy” doesn’t reveal the sheer mania of its scenario upfront (or, er, in back), instead dropping hints about the devious nature of Chip’s new obsession as a neighborhood kid goes missing and we’re left to wonder how, exactly, he might have pulled that off. You don’t want to know. Or do you? “Butt Boy” thrives on morbid curiosity.

And it lingers in that disgusting mystery while jumping ahead several years, as Chip attends AA sessions while seemingly battling to keep his anal desires under control. It’s there that he’s paired with a new arrival, a world-weary detective named Russell (Tyler Rice, in full-on maniacal Christian Bale mode), and while Russell initially embraces his sponsor, he grows suspicious when the distant Chip basically ghosts him.

Soon after, Russell picks up the bread crumbs on a new missing child case that leads back to Chip’s door, setting the stage for a slow-burn confrontation that — here and there — could work as a pure thriller devoid of the outré context, in part because the filmmaker implies so much more than he reveals. How on earth does Chip stuff full-sized humans and, yes, even a canine — up his butt, and what happens to them after that? “Butt Boy” leaves us contemplating the gnarly details.

In its initial passages, “Butt Boy” actually does a functional job of exploring two very different men grappling with addiction, and how it can provide temporary relief from the travails of daily existence. At the same time, the movie never quite gets away from the sense that the whole thing has been engineered on a lark. In the pantheon of scatalogical thrillers — indeed, that’s a thing — it shows echoes of “The Human Centipede (First Sequence)” and “Bad Milo” (about a literal ass demon), while falling somewhere in between the stone-faced approach of the former and the zaniness of the latter. Those disparate ingredients collide around the 45-minute mark, as Russell briefs his gruff police chief on his working theory: “The more objects this guy’s putting up his ass, the stronger he gets!”

Whatever you say, screenplay. Even as “Butt Boy” keeps pressing the limits of its very high concept, Cornack delivers genuine cinematic delights in small doses, including a dazzling slo-mo montage that cuts between Chip’s butt-play antics and Russell’s violent police work set to R&B, and cinematographer William Morean’s shadowy nighttime cinematography that could be easily mistaken for outtakes from David Fincher’s oeuvre.

Of course, even the most detailed homage can only take this lurid mayhem so far, and eventually “Butt Boy” stumbles into a grotesque variation of The Upside Down in “Stranger Things” by way of “Innerspace.” By then, even the most committed viewers may lose patience. Fortunately, anyone committed to the journey by then will probably see the movie through. While “Butt Boy” suffers from taking its one joke too far, it arrives at a transcendent finale — a bloody, absurdist payoff that makes a serious attempt at emotional catharsis.

With that much ambition on display, the movie leaves an impression reminiscent of the high-minded “Key & Peele” sketches that paved the way for Jordan Peele to become a master filmmaker. There’s just enough going on here to suggest that Cornack will could become one, too. “Butt Boy” dares you to give it a shot, and operates on the assumption that most people will write it off from the start. It’s hard to believe this movie even exists, but equally worth recognizing that it’s not entirely full of shit.

Grade: B-

“Butt Boy” is now available on VOD.

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