Fantasia 2022: Polaris, The Elderly, All Jacked Up and Full of Worms | Festivals & Awards

It’s frustrating how “The Elderly” becomes so imbalanced—its visual compositions are so striking throughout, but its plotting trades the ominous for obvious. I loved a recurring establishing shot that echoed Grandma’s sudden fall, with the camera looking up at the sky and then slamming down to the ground of a certain location, creating a feeling of that lingering tragedy. They use the camera with a great, illustrative emotional focus. But their overwrought, boringly typical usage of sound—both from whining orchestral strings and overzealous jump scare bangs, extra loud when it premiered at Fantasia—betrays that confidence. 

The story itself falls apart right as everything should be taking off; the emotional stakes are clear about the son not wanting to put the father in the home despite dad’s strange behavior and the weird things he finds written on the walls dad’s apartment, but are not felt from such repetitive storytelling. “The Elderly” then drags and drags until it reaches a conclusion, or an answer, that should be disturbing but amounts to a shoulder shrug. 

Alex Phillips’ “All Jacked Up and Full of Worms” succeeds on being one of the most polarizing movies you could find at any festival, having been designed like a drug trip through and through. Everyone has their own experience with hallucinogens—the movie echoes that with a gnarly ensemble comedy where worms are the word. Grimy characters snort and eat worms, more to inspire freewheeling sequences that do circles around concepts of love, parenting, pregnancy, violence, etc., without it having to mean much of anything. 

I was sometimes jostled, sometimes amused, sometimes drained by this dirty story that tends to get a little too cute, especially when it goes for broad comedy beats (slow motion walking after a drug experience, straight out of Apatow-era stuff). But every actor here tries to sell what this movie is goofing on, whether it’s the wannabe father who has a baby doll with a disturbing facial feature, the two people in clown make-up who are introduced having sex on a garbage can, or the sex worker woman who introduces the worms to a knowingly gibberish course of events. The characters prove to be more memorable than the random absurd things they blurt out, seemingly for random’s sake. 

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