A Most Atrocious Thing (2023) [Make Believe Film Festival 2024]

Directors Christian Hurley, and Ben Oliphint’s horror comedy is a movie that I bet they had a ton of fun filming. They emphasize this idea with the credits including bonus blooper reel. Sadly, none of the fun translated in to actual entertainment for me, even when I tried to see it at its level. But the movie is eighty two minutes in length (not counting the closing credits), and the mayhem doesn’t actually begin until a half hour in to the movie.

When a group of friends preparing to step out into adulthood get together for a wild weekend getaway of drinking and wreaking havoc, they make the tragic mistake of eating infected deer meat, thus turning them into crazed, bloodthirsty maniacs and spreading a horrific disease that can be transmitted through the blood.

Save for some exposition dumps, “A Most Atrocious Thing” goes through what feels a lot like filler, establishing their characters, then showing them partying and getting drunk, then injecting some bizarre dream sequences, and so much more. A lot of this time could have been spent exploring this horrible disease, or place more emphasis on the source of it all. Was the disease environmental, or was it some kind of curse placed upon by Nature? Save for some gnarly grue and very good make up, “A Most Atrocious Thing” is far too concerned with being a comedy to dig its heels in to the survival horror aspect of it all.

What should be a tense and gross fight with a bunch of lifelong friends having to murder one another is turned in to a shallow footnote all for the sake of getting to the next punchline. The movie’s idea of funny is staging weirdly inserted musical cues in to suspenseful scenes, like when one character hears a creeping at his tent while he’s listening to “Hey (Soul Sister).” Kudos to the production team on completing a feature film with a five thousand dollar budget, especially during the pandemic. But in the annals of cabin in the woods zombie movies, I’ve seen far so much better. It just wasn’t for me.

The Make Believe Film Festival screens exclusively in person at the Erickson Theatre, Northwest Film Forum, and the Grand Illusion Cinema from March 21st through the 26th.