The Orange Man is voluntarily uneven. After presenting itself as slasher horror, the film has a change of heart and decides to be a break-up comedy for bros, and then flip-flops some more. It’s a shame since the slasher bits are the most fun.
I haven’t seen any of Stephen Folker’s previous films, but judging by The Orange Man, he likes to favour absurdity. That works for the movie’s ridiculous premise involving an urban legend of a murderous psychopath who bludgeons his victims with oranges – either by the bushel or individually thrown. I can’t describe the happiness I received as I watched madman Peter Walkins (played by Ben Rollins) pitch oranges at others – he has a pretty good arm. The hilarity escalated when the targets would slowly embark on a boat and try to start the hiccuping motor.
Unfortunately, that fun happens late in the game. Up until then, Folker’s screenplay has four best friends yucking it up on a fishing trip after one of the pals (Gerald played by Dave Juehring) receives divorce papers from his unfaithful wife (played by Trena Penson). Coincidently, Gerald’s soon-to-be ex vacations to the same woods with her boy toy Roger (played by Robert Kemp). The guys are not pleased, but Walkins is tickled pink – more people for him to kill.
Macho behaviour is spewed from the mouths of the geeky males which, I suppose, Folker found funny. However, the dialogue is overcooked and sounds unnatural spoken by Gerald’s buddies (Jim Plovanich, Thomas Ely Sage, and Glenn Harston). Then again, it sounds as if the amateur actors have just memorized their lines minutes prior to shooting.
The gross-out jokes are dead-on-arrival; unless they involve bloody hooks – those kills were delightfully disgusting. Like a toddler, The Orange Man is fixated with urine humour. Harston, who plays wheelchair-bound Reggie, has a running gag where he constantly has to pee. He misses the pot, pees on his friend, and one scene even has him wheeling around the cabin and uncontrollably covering everything with his own morning dew. During this scene, Folker doesn’t bother hiding the prosthetic that’s feeding Reggie’s stream. This tells me that even the filmmaker knows the joke has run its course.
The only thing worse than the unstoppable urine is how Folker carries his film far past its prime. A qualifying ending occurs, yet the filmmaker insists on trudging up the bromance with long sequences of what happens after the fishing trip. This also includes more background on Gerald, moulding him into a callous and manipulative male chauvinist. He ends up making Peter ‘Orange Man’ Walkins look like a gentleman.
There are ways to incorporate genre thrills while progressing characterization without giving audiences a bunch of different, condensed movies. The Orange Man will make you laugh one way or another through its intentional silliness or unintentional shabbiness. However, the wishy-washy filmmaking holds it back from being ideal Midnight Madness fare.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie