Director: Don Thacker
Cast: Adrian DiGiovanni, Jeffrey Combs, Danielle Doetch
Running Time: 104 minutes
I am pleased to announce a new, disturbed mind joining the horror folds. With his feature debut MOTIVATIONAL GROWTH, writer/director/twisted visionary Don Thacker does some soul-searching. What he finds is an enigma about hygiene, suicide and console TVs.
The film remains in filthy, claustrophobic confines with protagonist Ian Folivor (Adrian DiGiovanni), who’s given up on life. He hasn’t bathed or left his apartment in 16 months. He wouldn’t get off the couch at all if it weren’t for the sores and the call of his bladder. He is a mess. And he’s utterly repulsive.
As is the apartment, but get used to it because you are not going to leave it for the next 104 minutes. Here you will wallow in Ian’s inspired existential dread until you and he can take it no more. And you’ll have no company but Ian and the talking fungus in his bathroom.
Huh. Now that’s odd.
Ian goes over the edge with the loss of his TV set Kent – he’s named his TV, and he’s killed his houseplants because they were, “plotting something untoward and needed to be dealt with.” That’s when he decides to end it all by inhaling a household cleaning fluid concoction (it’s not like he’s putting them to their natural use), but the wisdom of The Mold comes to his aid.
A lot of the success of MOTIVATIONAL GROWTH rides on The Mold – impeccably voiced by Jeffrey Combs (RE-ANIMATOR’s Dr. Herbert West to you and me), who becomes Ian’s smooth talking guru. And though a lack of experience is painfully evident with some of the supporting players, Combs and DiGiovanni develop a weirdly compelling rapport .
Swimming in quirky, amateurish charm and bodily fluids, MOTIVATIONAL GROWTH has the flavor of a Troma film, but it’s more intimate and thoughtful. Thacker’s writing is the film’s real star, and while the script is at times overwritten and at other times tiresome, Thacker’s playful insights and giddy love of language are as infectious as those fungi growing in the corners of Ian’s apartment.
Few filmmakers have done so much with so little. With a budget of well under $200,000, little set decoration beyond discarded pizza boxes and filth, no real wardrobe to speak of, and mostly amateur actors, Thacker has created a flawed but unique, memorable and grotesquely fascinating horror gem.
MOTIVATIONAL GROWTH is released on DVD and Blu-ray in the US from the 7th October.
Read more from Hope at MADDWOLF.