Main cast: Jerry G Angelo (Artik), Gavin White (Boy), Chase Williamson (Holton Shudcase), Lauren Ashley Carter (Flin Brays), and Matt Mercer (Kar)
Director: Tom Botchii
Wait, another movie with Chase Williamson in it? People, I’m not stalking him or something, I swear. It seems like he just can’t stay away from independent horror movies of dubious budget as well as quality, and I can only wonder about what he is thinking when he signs on the dotted line of an employment contract. Sure, I applaud folks that are in this for passion and what not, but there are only so many not-so-good movies before I start to question that person’s ability to pick good movies to appear in.
His role in Artik is a departure of sorts, though, as for once he’s not a wisecracking or smug but ultimately dim-witted fellow that bites the dust shortly after the movie begins. In fact, his character actually has a big role in this one.
Artik in the title refers to this scary psychotic character. Maybe the folks behind the movie are aiming for something deep when they call this character that, perhaps his soul is as bleak as the Arctic or some crap, because he is a crazy SOB. He has a bunch of kids abused and beaten up to basically serve as his slaves in his isolated farm where he lives with his equally deranged partner Flin Brays and his favorite kid Boy. Yes, just Boy. Artik is trying to groom Boy to be another cold-blooded killer like him, teaching the kid how to dispose of bodies and all.
All seems well for Artik, not so much for poor Boy, until Boy befriends edgy Holton, who is looking for a way to move past his abusive childhood and thinks he can help Boy find a better way to be. Well, not if Artik would have any say in that…
Screenwriter and director Tom Botchii claimed somewhere that Artik is based off his father, and while I’m sure he intended to say that maybe his father was a hive of villainy and what not, my first reaction was to go, “Oh, so your father is a cartoon villain?” That’s what the titular character is. I’m fairly certain Mr Botchii intended Artik to be a terrifying messianic-figure of abominable cruelty or something like that, but Jerry G Angelo’s performance is more of a snarling scenery-chewing “I gnaw on paint chips!” kind that makes it hard for me to take him seriously. Mr Botchii also tries to have Artik mouth off lines that are meant to be deep or frighteningly insightful, but I just find these monotonous ramblings pretentious and banal.
The treatment of exposition as dialogues extends to Holton as well, but at least Holton is allowed to behave more closely like a more human-like edgelord. Sure, his lines resemble overwrought Goth monologues, and it takes me a while to get used to Mr Williamson’s lower timbre and less animated facial expressions, but Holton is a far more interesting as a character than Artik could only wish he can be. The kid playing Boy is also pretty good, and a part of me wishes that this movie had been just about Holton and Boy without the over the top efforts at making a reject Rob Zombie movie stinking up the joint.
The movie falls apart completely in its second act, though, when it goes straight into psycho-gone-wild territory. Artik becomes a full blown Looney Tunes cartoon with added explicit violence by that point, and all the overacting and over the top theatrics turn this movie by that point into a perpetual cringe-inducing farce.
Oh, I have a hunch that Tom Botchii believes that this movie would be some kind of artistic take on edgy violence of the human soul or some crap like that, but the result is more of an edgy try-hard mess gone wrong. The whole thing is far more embarrassing to behold than he’d have liked.