Runtime: 72 minutes
Director: Alex Phillips
Writer: Alex Phillips
Cast: Phillip Andre Botello, Trevor Dawkins, Betsey Brown, Mike Lopez, Carol Rhyu
By Harris Dang
“All Jacked Up and Full of Worms” (2022) tells the story of a lowly motel caretaker by the name of Roscoe (Phillip Andre Botello). He is stuck inside his self-institutionalized state of ennui that has affected the people around him. His freewheeling girlfriend Samantha (Betsey Brown) tries to provoke him to get him out of this state by trying bizarre rites – one of which involves bigamy. The only thing that seems to provide some of respite for him is his time at work; cleaning up the hotel rooms after being used for sexual dalliances.
Along the way, we meet a loner, Benny (Trevor Dawkins), who is desperately seeking to become a father. Strangely enough, the child that he has is literally delivered to him in a box and comes with an instruction manual to care for it. It becomes clear that the child is a sex doll — Stay with me here! – and this is all a part of a fantasy that Benny is trying to reach. The next step for his completion is to find a mother and coincidentally, his desperation (or his sexual drive) leads him to the hotel where Roscoe works. The two come together and find a hidden stash of worms in one of the rooms. And like the most normal of situations, the two ingest them and they go on a hallucinogenic trip of depravity and mania that unravels their deepest secrets in the most garish of ways.
When you look at a film title like “All Jacked Up and Full of Worms” (2022), the title is a clear indication as to whether you would want to see a film like that or not. If the title appeals to you, chances are you are the target audience for it. If not, it would be best to run away from it like you are on fire. On a fortunately scant runtime of 72 minutes, “All Jacked Up and Full of Worms” (2022) manages to explore sexual repression, social expectations and animal instincts through the most ridiculous means.
Whether it is through raunchiness (which includes the sex doll), the jagged filmmaking (the editing choices are exhilarating and unruly) knowingly overstated dialogue (“There’s too much shit going on! My baby drowned at the beach today!”, said after being proposed to have sex) and pantomime performances (any film that has Betsey Brown in the cast isn’t going to hold back) that is bound to offend and then some, the film is one hell of an unforgettable ride.
It helps that the cast all commit to the bit as they all act out the most outrageous acts (including sexual acts that are bound to put people off) as well as bathe themselves in the gloriously gruesome practical effects — which includes blood, gore and of course, worms of various sizes. And it is thanks to them that we have some sort of empathy behind their conflicts and goals. Even the gruesomeness reaches a level of off-kilter beauty that is paid off with a satisfying ending that marries the suffering and desire of our characters with a feat of meaningful catharsis. The reprehensible feel of the film is reminiscent of Takashi Miike’s “Visitor Q” (2001) and that is a compliment.
Overall, “All Jacked Up and Full of Worms” (2022) is a sickening, stomach-churning experience that is sure to gross out, disturb and offend. However, it is that same exact approach behind it that will earn it plaudits thanks to its examinations on humanity, the amazing practical effects and the enthusiastic cast. Recommended.
“All Jacked Up and Full of Worms” (2022) had just screened at Fantastic Fest 2022. Click the image above for more details.