By Gary M. Kramer.

Director, co-writer, and star Tyler Cornack’s Butt Boy is a one joke sci-fi comedy thriller. Discerning viewers intrigued by this title will find this low-budget, high-concept film offers some cheeky deadpan humor and one imaginative visual motif.

The film has everyman Chip Gutchell (Cornack) stuck in the drudgery of an IT job and trapped in a loveless marriage. During a routine prostate exam, Chip experiences something that might be described as pleasure. Soon, the remote control, the family dog, and even a small child goes missing. Apparently, Chip has been inserting these and other objects up his butt.

Butt Boy then jumps ahead a decade, where Detective Russel Fox (Tyler Rice) joins AA and is introduced to Chip, who is assigned to be his sponsor. The two men bond over dinner, but shortly thereafter, Chip fails to return Russel’s calls. Chip, it seems is back to inserting objects, including board game pieces, another small child, and the floppy disk that incriminates his “kidnapping” in his rectum. A scene of him experiencing the bliss he achieves performing this act is mildly amusing.

Meanwhile, Russel’s keen powers of deduction theorize that Chip, a white, married-with-child, suburban male, who is also his AA sponsor, is cramming objects, animals, and even kids up his asshole and digesting them. And he is on a spree like a serial killer, because this is giving him strength. Though Russel isn’t sure about the digestion part.

Is Butt Boy making a pointed commentary about Chip’s bunghole being a pleasure center? Perhaps. The film does seem to have something to say about addiction, but it keeps what that is deliberately ambiguous. More intriguing is how masculinity is performed in the film. Chip becomes emboldened by his anal activity, whereas Russel is a gruff detective who takes no shit. These men, cop and suspect, have a power struggle in a belabored sequence where Russel asks to use Chip’s bathroom.

When the film depicts Chip’s ass vacuuming up things—including Russel—there is an imaginative sequence set in his bowels. (It feels inspired by Pasolini’s Canterbury Tales). As Russel discovers, before the literally explosive finale, the only way out is in. 

Butt Boy’s tone is only briefly juvenile, which works in its favor. The actors all take their roles seriously, and it is that commitment to the material that elevates this film from being just a campy B-movie.

Tyler Cornack does a commendable job as Chip, expressing his malaise and pleasure with the subtlest of facial expressions, but his character largely remains an enigma, which is slightly frustrating. His co-star, Tyler Rice embraces his gruff cop stereotype and injects the film with some life because he plays the part with a knowing sensibility; he doesn’t wink at that camera, though, which is why his performance delivers.

But Butt Boy is oddly unsatisfying. While it is more low-key than low-brow—and relatively well made and at times, inventive—it feels underdeveloped. Cornack offers an absurdist premise here, but it feels he does not in go deep enough.

Gary M. Kramer writes about film for Salon, Cineaste, Gay City News, Philadelphia Gay News, The San Francisco Bay Times, and Film International. He is the author of Independent Queer Cinema: Reviews and Interviews, and the co-editor of Directory of World Cinema: Argentina, Volumes 1 & 2

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