They say there are only seven different plots that make up every story — comedy, overcoming the monster, the quest, rags to riches, rebirth, tragedy, voyage and return — but that’s really only true when each is viewed in the broadest sense. Still, it makes for a lot of movies that feel similar in their story and execution, so how do you get around that? You do something extraordinary with the execution to make your take on the familiar wholly unique instead. You’ve seen the basic narrative bones of Butt Boy before, but you have never before seen Butt Boy.
Chip (Tyler Cornack) is a man as bored by his family as he is by his job, but he finds a spark in an unexpected place when a routine prostate exam leaves him with a new source of fulfillment — he gets a rush from sticking things up his asshole. As in, all the way up. And leaving them there. Years later he’s controlling the addiction with weekly AA meetings, but the urge returns after he meets and befriends a dogged detective named Russell (Tyler Rice) who’s fighting his own demons. When a child disappears at Chip’s office, Russell’s investigation leaves him suspecting his new friend, but his theory’s shot down by the brass leaving the detective with no choice but to go rogue.
Anal spark aside, this is the general setup for any number of serial killer thrillers, and Cornack, who also directs and co-writes alongside Ryan Koch, keeps the tone every bit as serious as its contemporaries. Where Butt Boy differs, though, is in the antagonist’s modus operandi. The missing boy is up Chip’s ass — and he’s not alone.
Again, and this should be stressed, the film unfolds with an earnest sincerity even though the missing boy is inside Chip’s rectum. From its observations on addiction to the detective’s angry determination, the script and performers play it all seriously right on through a wonderfully weird third act. The film feels at times like an Astron-6 production (a compliment), but even there it never tilts into acknowledging the absurdity we’re seeing on the screen by way of exaggerated characters or performances.
To be fair, part of that may be due to a miniscule budget that, wild third act aside, means effects and production design are kept to a bare minimum. The story unfolds through dialogue and insinuation as we’re not made privy to the more visceral aspects of the tale until later on, but viewers will have no difficulty following along with the implications. One exception, though, comes in Russell’s deductions as he reaches a conclusion we know to be true despite seeing nothing that could have led him down that particular road. It’s possible a clue he finds at the scene of the disappearance is the missing piece, but it’s never made clear to viewers.
That gap in the script, along with the incredibly low budget, are stumbling blocks that might be too sever for some, but if they’re not deal-breakers for you there’s quite a bit here to appreciate and, dare I say it, love? The audacious nature of the central plot point is first and foremost, because again, if the butt vacuum is replaced with something more traditional like cannibalism or sliced throats the film would play every bit like a conventional thriller. It’s obviously highly unconventional instead, but the tension, drama, and third act thrills remain.
Rice deserves a special shout-out for his performance as the cliched appearance — slicked back hair, squinty eyes, and some various tics mark actors like Al Pacino and Christian Bale as probable inspirations — reinforces the film’s feel as something familiar in the face of something clearly unusual and bonkers. He’s also home to some unexpected warmth as a trauma from his past crosses into the present.
Comedy, overcoming the monster, the quest, rags to riches, rebirth, tragedy, voyage and return — Butt Boy manages at least five of the seven, and that’s no small potatoes. There’s a risk the title alone will scare off some potential viewers, but while understandable, that would still be a shame as this is engrossing entertainment and a reminder that we never truly know what someone else is hiding inside.