You can’t quite tell from the trailers, but this is one of the Tromiest non-Troma films in years. Fans will be thrilled with it – and at the midnight CUFF screening, they did, whooping and cackling through the majority of the film. But those unfamiliar with Troma alumnus Drew Bolduc’s particular brand of filmmaking might be well advised to do their research first.
If nothing else, the flick will get a reaction out of any viewer this side of the grave. Science Team is excess on a low budget.
In the writer/producer/director/editor/sound editor/special effects worker/composer’s seat (maybe that’s seats?), Bolduc is interested in provoking the viewer. The film barrages the squeamish types with face-melting violence, the PC folk with relentless irreverence, the film snob with gleeful cinematic abandon, and the rationally-minded with pitch-perfect Tromatic nonsense. You’ve never seen anyone do science like Science Team – probably a good thing for our civilization.
Long story short, Chip (Vito Trigo) has a fight with his girlfriend, beats up a sailor, flees to his mother’s, masturbates to animated tentacle rape and winds up in the middle of a showdown between a mysterious, mind-penetrating alien monster and the eponymous, pink-suited Science Team. Beyond this, the plotting is a mess of action movie tropes, Freudian overstatement and unabashed nonsense — just the way it should be.
As the almost constantly enraged Chip, Trigo is the perfect headliner for the film. He’s grating, profane, needlessly violent and hopelessly childish. One minute he’s wielding a baseball bat with enough brutality to make Tarantino’s Bear Jew happy; the next, he’s collapsed plaintively in the welcoming hands of a random mother figure. It’s a big performance and it’s as repulsively endearing as the film itself.
The film isn’t just a frenzy of violence and bad jokes, though. It might be easy to miss the sure hand of Bolduc’s direction amidst the exploding heads and verbal abuse, but the film’s small moments of quiet are imbued with a sort of awed melancholy that actually does a strange justice to its loftier themes of nihilism and infinity. There are beautiful and even challenging cinematic moments in the film. Early on, a surreal, bass-heavy soundscape booms as the camera zooms slowly into Chip’s VHS tentacle-rape as it loops on the screen with a cinematic attention that elevates the sequence above the level of a throwaway anime-porn gag. The images of the Science Team grounds, which are firmly planted in the realm of slapstick, are accompanied by semi-wondrous, minimalist melodies – if we’re just supposed to laugh at the stupidity, the soundscape makes no sense. Something other than pure silliness is going on in Science Team. Whether it’s a worthwhile something is probably up to the individual viewer.
But if you’re just looking to see Science Team throw down with the gooiest alien this side of ’80s Cronenberg, with plenty of head-crushing, blood-spurting, and furious screaming in between, Science Team is gonna satisfy.
By Chris Shalom