It inspires a few laughs, but it’s also a one-joke premise that can barely sustain itself over such a short runtime.
It comes as a bit of a surprise that, with so many recent horror films aping off of different subgenres from the past, no one has really attempted to tackle the creature feature. Jacob Vaughan’s Bad Milo! sticks out from today’s oversaturated horror market simply because it harkens back to a group of films that haven’t been touched by anyone else in the last several years. Films like Ghoulies, Gremlins, and Critters show their influence throughout, but they’re only reminders of why these kinds of movies stopped getting made.
Bad Milo! has a plot that will immediately divide viewers. After opening with a flash forward to the film’s climax (a device that was already getting overused years ago), we cut back to Duncan (Ken Marino) and Sarah (Gillian Jacobs) at the doctor’s (Toby Huss, in a very funny bit part) discussing a large mass that has appeared in Duncan’s colon.
The doctor says it’s nothing to worry about, and is most likely a result of stress. It immediately becomes apparent just how stressed Duncan is once he leaves the doctor’s office. His mother (Mary Kay Place) pressures him to become a father to the point where she grills him on sexual issues over dinner; his boss (Patrick Warburton) merely uses and abuses him as much as possible, and Duncan’s strained relationship with his father (Stephen Root) dominates his life. It turns out that the lump in Duncan’s colon is the titular monster, a small creature that periodically crawls out of Duncan’s ass to devour anyone who makes his life more stressful than it already is.
Bad Milo! is backed by a surprisingly good cast given the scatological subject matter, but only a few people get enough material to shine. Peter Stormare, playing Duncan’s therapist, hits the right balance between a campy and straight-faced approach. Marino carries the film fine, even when he’s covered in feces and screaming in pain, but his talents are put to better use when he sticks to the rude, obnoxious characters he tends to play in other projects. The rest of the cast feels wasted, merely there as an obstacle for Duncan or a future victim for Milo. Jacobs, a great comedic actress, doesn’t do much other than being the doting wife.
Once Duncan realizes what’s living inside him, and starts confronting the problems in his life to avoid increasing the body count, Bad Milo! takes a sentimental turn that falls flat. There’s a playful quality to the subject matter that works sometimes (a scene where Duncan gets a colonoscopy is the film’s highlight), but asking viewers to emotionally invest in Duncan’s father issues when they’re watching an ass monster movie is asking for too much. Films with similarly gross stories, like James Gunn’s Slither, know how to hit the right notes of camp and seriousness. Bad Milo! relies too much on generating an emotional response, and fails at it.
It’s a wacky story, and it inspires a few laughs, but it’s also a one-joke premise that can barely sustain itself over such a short runtime. The casting elevates the material to the point where Bad Milo! makes for passable viewing, but don’t expect much outside of a few funny jokes and a surprisingly cute monster covered in shit.