Movie Pick of the Week



Director: Flying Lotus

Year of release: 2017

Running time: 1 hour 26 minutes


How many conceivable bodily fluids can ooze, emanate, discharge, puss, and explode from the human (or non-human) body? Kuso, the Dadaist-inspired vision of drugged-out madness from musician/producer Flying Lotus (a.k.a. Steve Ellison), gives an answer to that question while also creating new ones. 

As a testament to the power of provoking the audience, this experiment works as a half-lucid mishmash of mixed media where Ellison and his creative team seemed to have spent most of their time bong-ripped while trying to outdo themselves in the shock value department. Make no mistake, this film (if it even is one) is beyond repulsive; a very sick joke which uses every gross-out gag in the book--deranged sex, shitting, farting, ejaculation, feces smearing, maggot-eating, blistering boils, Tim Heidecker emerging from a toilet--for a very specific aim. Whereas shock horror efforts like The Human Centipede wallow in depravity for its own sake, Ellison's obsessions are more absurdist and playful. Structured as four loosely connected vignettes concerning zombie-fied California residents surviving a catastrophic earthquake, Kuso is less concerned with narrative than with unspooling a low brow version of Pasolini's Salo as directed by Adult Swim alumni.

The Adult Swim angle here is apt (and not only because Heidecker of Tim and Eric's Awesome Show Great Job! shows up), but also because of the overall visual aesthetic, which combines paper collage-like interludes, stilted line deliveries, awkward freeze frames, VHS-level video quality, and gnarly practical effects. The results are a trigger warning movie that could only exist in our disposable Internet culture--disgusting, off-putting, undisciplined, at times very funny--like scrolling through hours of web junk only to find more lines to cross and further buttons to push. As free-association sophomoric splatter art, Kuso is definitely up to something. Hell, it may even inspire a very niche (and twisted) audience to follow Ellison down the rabbit hole of George Clinton's infested anus and then back again. Either way, this scatalogical 93-minute vision of post-apocalyptic nonsense is something.