Tag Archives: Tyler Cornack

CAPSULE: TINY CINEMA (2022)

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Tiny Cinema is currently available for VOD rental or purchase. The Blu-ray releases on Oct. 11, 2022 and is available for pre-order.

DIRECTED BY:

FEATURING: Paul Ford, Tyler Cornack

COMMENTS: Oh, anthology horror: what are we to do with you? There’s something of a process for writing about long-form narrative films. (There’s also a process for dealing with short films, albeit a semi-tragic one: largely ignore them because of the limited market.) But for me, anthologies present a quandary. The broad, brush-stroke of “Here are some themes and things that happened” clashes with the impulse to write about each of the titles. Tyler Cornack’s assembly of short films (developed, if I read correctly, from some of his even shorter films) rarely bores the viewer—a benefit of flitting from one story the next with due haste—and never quite draws the viewer into the world—a disadvantage of that very same process.

Brief poking around the internet suggests that the closing short, “Daddy’s Home,” was one of every other critics’ least favorite segments. However, this oddity best captured my attention and is clearly the weirdest of this oddball crop of macabre. Sam is on a blind date, and it is going well. So well that the young woman he’s ended up with busts out what he thinks is some casual cocaine. Having snuffed the bump, she informs him that, no, that is not blow, the ashes of her father. This triggers the most unusual curse I’ve ever witnessed. Troubled by this reveal, Sam endures the evening’s remains, and leaves the lady with no promise of ever seeing her again. The next day, the dad jokes begin. “Excuse me, do you have a bookmark?,” “I do have a book, but my name’s not ‘Mark’!,” is but one of the awful-awkward rejoinders he finds himself spouting. As he begins to age rapidly and lose his hair, he decides to visit the home of his blind-date for a showdown whose finale reminded me of a classic sketch involving seduced milkmen.

Other offerings include the smirk-inducing exploration of who the infamous “she” of “that’s what she said” might be; a Nekromantik 2/Re-Animator hybrid which has the welcome touch of showing personal growth in the main character; a liquor store robbery/sexual role-playing ensemble buddy comedy; a time-loop apocalypse tale which has the courage to ask the question, Would you have sex with your future self to save the planet?, and… so on in that vein. To praise this movie with faint damnation, each of the segments would have done better as a short before a film festival feature. Instead, these scattershot ideas are minimally held together by the dead-pan charisma of Paul Ford, whose welcome presence prevented me from tossing this into the Try Again bin.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“Cornack has found the perfect balance of narrative variety and tonal consistency. For while these stories flirt variously with sci-fi, or horror, or the tropes of mobster or heist flicks, what unifies them – beyond their shared location and the Host’s occasional interventions – is that they are all weird, witty and utterly wrong.”–Anton Bitel, Projected Figures (contemporaneous)

CAPSULE: BUTT BOY (2019)

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DIRECTED BY: Tyler Cornack

FEATURING: Tyler Cornack, Tyler Rice

PLOT: I.T. specialist Chip becomes obsessed with sticking items into his rectum; years later, he becomes an Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor for a police detective who grows to suspect Chip is involved in a child’s disappearance.

Still from Butt Boy (2019)

COMMENTS: Butt Boy is the inverse of the bigger-budgeted horror/drama Swallow (2020), which is a very serious and psychological-minded take on a woman with pica which causes her to swallow inedible objects. (Indeed, although I’m fairly sure neither filmmaker saw the others’ work beforehand, a couple of shots of the respective protagonists studying objects with a mind towards inserting them into admittedly different orifices are eerily similar.) Superficially, Butt Boy is (almost) equally serious to Swallow in tone, but its focus on the opposite end of the digestive tract (and its title) makes it impossible to take seriously.

Despite lacking the high poetry implied in the term, “magical realism” would be a technically correct designation for Butt Boy. What makes the experiment work, to the extent it does, is its dedication to remain absolutely deadpan, never wavering, never winking. It is, most definitely, weird in its conception; but not, for the most part, in its execution. In fact, the idea of a detective who suspects his A.A. sponsor of having committed a terrible crime is so rife with inherent drama and suspense that, in a fit of spontaneous normality, I almost thought it was wasted in a movie where the chief suspect is—literally, not figuratively—an asshole.

Director Tyler Cornack tackles on the central role with a dull and detached take that suits the dry tone, but Tyler Rice, who has sort of a Joe Pesci-in-a-goatee thing going on, brings a needed burst of energy in the role of detective Fox. The perpetually defensive mannerisms of a newly recovering alcoholic mesh perfectly with the eternally suspicious nature of the archetypal career cop. (He even comes with a poignant backstory, efficiently conveyed through a glimpse at a mysterious woman through a cracked door.) Passable cat-and-mouse action takes up the second act, although there are no real surprises or standout suspense scenes to be had (at least, not until the blankly funny moment where Chip drops trou during a violent confrontation). It’s done well enough to pass the time until act three, however, when the movie goes all the way to the end of its alimentary canal of a premise.

Inspired partly by the horror he has seen, and a narrow escape, Fox falls off the wagon just as things start to get really weird. Naturally, his by-the-book supervisor refuses to entertain his explanation for the disappearance, so he’s forced to go looking for the missing boy himself. We then get into the bowels of the story, so to speak; and although thankfully things don’t get too gross, the sights are not for the meek. Then again, the meek probably won’t be streaming something titled Butt Boy in the first place.

While your attention will naturally be drawn to the Butt, but pay attention to the Boy as well. While Butt Boy may play like a simple parody, if there’s any serious subtext under the surface, it’s an attitude towards fatherhood that isn’t necessarily obvious.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“The whole thing is just a gross-out joke stretched to absurd proportions, seemingly designed to attract epithets like ‘weirdest film of the year.’ But you know what? It works.”–Gavia Baker-Whitelaw, The Daily Dot (festival screening)