By GLENN TOLLE
Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo, and Bianca Soto
Written and Directed By Colin Bemis
Turbo Orange Films
STRAWBERRY FLAVORED PLASTIC is a horror film. It’s disquieting, it’s discomforting, it’s scary, and it’s disturbing. And while this is to be expected of a movie that centers on a serial killer, not all of the fear elicited is due to the killer’s violent actions. If anything, much of the discomfort in STRAWBERRY FLAVORED PLASTIC stems from the perpetrator’s humanity, and from the men who take it upon themselves to document his life. And what a life it is.
The serial killer in question is named Noel and he’s nothing like any other serial killer you’ve seen. Sure, he shares some traits of other cinematic murderers, but many are seemingly turned inside out. When we first meet him, for instance, Noel is charming and we assume, considering he’s a psychopath (or as he contends, a sociopath) that this is all a ruse. But as the film progresses we have our initial assumptions challenged. This is arguably what makes this movie so frightening.
Nature and nurture has always been at the center of discussions regarding good and evil and the creation of human monsters. A few hours before I watched STRAWBERRY FLAVORED PLASTIC I happened upon an issue of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC and read an article which seemed to suggest that nature plays the larger role in creating societies’ monsters and that, with new methods of therapy, those monsters could have a fighting chance at overcoming their baser instincts. In the article (written by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee with photographs by Lynn Johnson), a researcher was quoted as saying that “our social brain is plastic, even in adulthood,” suggesting the possibility that those who are born with demons in their genes can, to some extent, exorcise them and become human again. Precisely as in STRAWBERRY FLAVORED PLASTIC.
The film presents Noel as a nesting doll: with each scene, another layer is removed revealing smaller and more intimate details about his life and possible psychological makeup. We think we know what we will find when we eventually take off the last layer, the last shell, but STRAWBERRY FLAVORED PLASTIC never lets us see that last .
Both poignant and terrifying, STRAWBERRY FLAVORED PLASTIC leaves the viewer squirming, leaving the question of whether that change is ultimately good or ill up to the viewer. It’s probably the scariest ending to a horror film that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing in the past few years. It’s the cherry on top to a film that manages to be one of the most exceptionally disturbing without spewing gallons of blood.
I highly recommend STRAWBERRY FLAVORED PLASTIC, especially horror fans who pride themselves on sitting through some of the most unsettling pieces of cinema. It leaves a distinctive taste that I know I’ll never get out of my mouth or mind.