Tuesday, March 10, 2015

MOTIVATIONAL GROWTH (2013)

MOTIVATIONAL GROWTH (2013) 

Label: Parade Deck Films, MVD Visual 
Region Code: 0 NTSC
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 104 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1)
Director: Don Thacker
Cast: Jeffery Combs, Adrian Digiovani, Ken Brown, Danielle Doetsch



Ian (Adrian Digiovani) is suffering through some severe mental depression which is never quite explained but we do know he has become something of a dirty hermit who is a shut-in and does not venture outside of his apartment for any reason whatsoever. His daily routine involves watching episodic TV programming on a vintage '60s era tube television and taking a semi-regular dump in the bathroom, His apartment is overflowing with months worth of pizza boxes and cereal bowls. he eats, sleeps and lives on the couch watching a  stream of mind-numbing TV trash, because of his sedentary lifestyle he is covered head to toe in unsightly bed sores and his t-shirt is stained with sweat and food stuff best not though about too long. Yup, he is a bearded weirdo who for whatever reason has opted to drop out of society and live among the trash heaps in his dingy apartment.

While it might appear disgusting to normal people Ian seems pretty damn content with his filthy and lonely existence, that is until one day sad his beloved TV (which he named Kent) up and dies in a brief puff of smoke. Distraught he takes one last semi-regular dump before cooking up a caustic suicide soup of household chemicals in the bathtub, but before the venomous vapors can have the desired effect he is knocked unconscious, when he comes to a bit later he finds that the fungus which has been growing in the corner of his restroom is sentient and in a mood for some serious conversation. The fungal oddity which prefers to be addressed as The Mold somehow manages to win the favor of Ian and inexplicably sets about putting the recluse on a brighter path, beginning with cleaning  the filthy apartment, shaving the crumb-infested beard and wearing clean clothing on a regular basis for a change.

The Mold is voiced by Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator) and he does a fantastic job of giving the fungus some real character, assisted by some great puppetry work from the special effects team on the film. Combs' voice is velvety smooth and mesmerizing with a series of mold-isms like "right now you're an goldfish in an eight ounce glass, you got nowhere to go and you don't even know it, you're stuck ", it's not that hard to imagine being mind-fucked by this particular fungus. 

Also along for the ride are a series of visitors to Jack's apartment, since he never ventures outside we must rely on a steady steam of visitors, beginning with a weird TV repairman who has quite a fetish for that old tube TV, so much so that he pretty much molests it. There's the sassy grocery store clerk who comes and goes plus a young woman named Leah (Danielle Doetsch) who Ian peeps through the peephole on his door on a daily basis, having memorized her daily habits, which is just super creepy but she seems into it for some reason and begins a short-lived friendship with the recluse. There's also the beast named Box, the hulking landlord, a potentially violent and scary presence throughout the film. 


The bond between the mold brought to mind the parasitic relationships found in both Frank Henenlotter's Basketcase and Brain Dead, they're definitely kindred spirits, but the humor is a bit different, it's darker. With every shot happening inside Ian's apartment  it does have the tendency to feel stagey but the strong visual style of the inventive cinematography manages to obscure the monotony using skewed angles and interspersing some mind-altering fantasy sequences, including an alien cop drama TV program and a morning workout show, there's also a few cool 8-bit animated sequences. Another bonus is that the entire score for the film sounds like it was composed on a Nintendo NES or Commodore 64, which makes for some seriously sweet vintage 8-bit audio which gives the film a surreal edge layered atop the  barrage of trippy visual images. 

I didn't know quite what to expect with this one going into it, but I'm willing to give just about anything a chance that features the talents of Mr. Jeffrey Combs (From Beyond) and I was not disappointed. Adrian Digiovani's performance is strong and nuanced just enough, all the back and forth with his character and Combs as The Mold is pure verbal dynamite, this particular fungus is quite the moldy charmer and when he goes apocalyptic towards the end it is most certainly frightening stuff. 


Motivational Growth is quite an indie entry from director Don Thacker, and a strange one. One. A bizarre dark comedy about a dirty little shut-in with some serious gross out humor laced within. It's not horror movie but it is very dark, and disturbing on several levels. Check out the multiple vomiting scenes or the strange sight of Ian sucking off a mold-tit if you doubt me. If you are a neat freak you are about to enter a nightmare world, if you loathe mold you are about to traipse through a field of fungus, and if you fear succumbing to depression and dying alone, there's that, too. 

Special Features:
- Trailer (1 Mins) 

- Teaser Trailer (2 Mins)
- Photo Gallery (7 Mins)
- Audio Commentary w/ actors Jeffery C
ombs, Adrian DiGiovanni and Director Don Thacker

A fantastic watch with some trippy visuals and a sweet 8-bit score, the unique blend of visuals, great casting and strong writing bring this indie entry to life. An original and apocalyptic vision from director  Don Thacker, a very high recommend. I can see this not sitting well with some, it's not a film for everyone, but I loved it. 

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