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smithee food

Something's gumming up the plumbing!

To you or to me, this phrase might suggest an old ad for the "Mario Bros." video game, but writer/director Brett Piper is not you, and he certainly isn't me. To Brett Piper, this phrase suggests Drainiac!, the best

(whatever it is)

that I've seen this year. Also the worst. And the only.

The movie begins, as all good movies should, with a couple of hobos out in the woods. They get into a fight, put their fire out, and take shelter in a nearby abandoned house. Of evil! We know it's evil because one of the hobos sees some weird green stuff dripping from pipes. Some of the green stuff gets on the hobo, and it dissolves him. The other hobo runs the hell away.

...and Cue Credits! Cue movie!

Julie lives with her (verbally) abusive father. He forces her to clean the rundown houses that he buys, fixes up, and sells. Julie has a weird dream about being attacked by a bizarre liquid special effect (*). This has been happening a lot since her mother died (*).

The house that her father takes her out to (on Old Miskatonic Road) is the one we saw the hobos break into about twelve minutes ago, screen-time. There is some weirdness about the water, but Julie's dad assures her that it'll run clean eventually. Then he heads down to the bar to get drunk, promising Julie that she will regret it if the house isn't clean on his return.

Julie has a weird hallucination about taking off all of her clothes and being attacked by a monster in the bathtub (*).

Some of Julie's friends show up to help her clean the house. Unfortunately, an asshole acquaintance follows them on his motorbike. The asshole tries to rape one of Julie's friends, and there's a big fight. The asshole basically beats up everybody, and then decides to trot into the house to take a leak. While draining his lizard, the house's drain lizard eats him via the toilet.

Concerned that they can't find Asshole anywhere in the house (after arming themselves with a crowbar), Julie and pals decide to head off for civilization -- but a mysterious watery sinkhole opens underneath their car, they are barely able to escape. The sinkhole sucks the poor Saab underground, leaving only its antenna sticking into the air. Wow. What a Saab story!

Well, nothing to do now but wait for Julie's dad. So everybody gets to cleaning. Upstairs in a bedroom, Julie finds a mysterious old-timey photograph. The woman in the mysterious old-timey photograph looks exactly like her mom (*). Julie's mom died a year ago. She killed herself, because she couldn't stand living with Julie's dad any longer. Sounds to me like right idea, wrong target. Speaking of whom....

Julie's dad leaves the bar ("You sober enough to drive?" "Better be. Too drunk to walk."), but his minivan mysteriously splutters to a stop. When he pops the hood to investigate, he's scalded to death by steam from the radiator. Green ooze slides out of the van's tailpipe.

More faucet shenanigans back at the house, and Julie's sole male friend goes into the basement -- alone -- to look at the pipes. Of course, the door locks behind him, and the basement starts filling with water. The three woman shriek and fail to break the door down, when ... there's a knocking at the front door.

It's a plumber! Who has just happened by.

The plumber gets the basement door open, and Julie's male friend is rescued. It turns out that the plumber is no plumber at all. His name is Plummer, and he's an exorcist.

As he explains, he's a freelance exorcist. He goes where the spirit moves him. And this house ... is haunted! There's a ghost in the pipes, although it might be more proper to call it a water elemental or a poltergeist.

Julie talks her friends into assisting with the exorcism. At first, it's all in good fun -- until spooky things start happening. "What the hell is going on?" asks Julie's guy friend, as Plummer is trying to recite Latin. Plummer loses his temper. "A FRIGGING EXORCISM! NOW SHUT UP!"

Can't blame him on that. Creepy things continue to happen (bugs, foggy FX, a topless woman who pulls back the flesh on her face to reveal the skull underneath). All is going well until Plummer has gotten the watery spirit to reveal itself, and has adjured it to return to Hell.

"Oh shit," Plummer says quietly.
"What's wrong?"
"Usually they leave at this point."
The spirits continue to blatantly not leave.
"What do we do now?"
"Die, probably."

Plummer keeps trying, and the water elemental thing sticks a tendril down his throat, and pumps him full of water until he bursts. It's a bad scene. Nobody can move. Then a familiar-looking woman (from the picture in the house) shows up (*), and suddenly Julie can move again. She helps her friends up, then they run out of the house, which implodes in a big watery spectacle (*), and flushes itself down a mysterious hole where the house used to be.

The end! Now let's walk several miles back to town, happy to be alive....

(*) I think these are all supposed to suggest a sort of unifying theme. Or maybe something subtle. Like Julie's ghost mom gave her premonitions, then hung around long enough to finish off the liquefacted spirit water elemucky Drainiac. Subtlety can work -- but this is just out-right hand-waving.

I do again have to give Mr. Piper credit for his SFX. He uses real physical FX, and while they're not spectacular (although I really liked the Saab subsidence sequence and the house implosion), they are pretty solid. No WSFX nominations here.




WoW! I don't exactly know what a Smithee Award entails or whether it's a good or a bad thing but I'm somehow honored to be mentioned.


Re: Drainiac!

It's a good or a bad thing entirely depending on your feelings about your work, and your sense of humor. So the answer is: "Yes."