“Tapeworm” is a deader-than-deadpan Canadian comedy whose 78 minutes are reminiscent of a pharmacist’s last instructions when handing over your prescription of Praziquantel.
“This too will pass.”
Pitched as a “cringe” comedy, it’s a largely silent — mostly a lot of dead spaces surrounding vacant characters, many of whom spend much of their screen time weeping.
There’s the stoner couple (Stephanie Berrington, Sam Singer) who have lots of sex and inhale lots of weed.
“Do you love me?” “No.”
“Do you love ME?” “No.”
“Will you come to my funeral if I die?”
That’s almost funny and not at all representative of this deathly dry and existentially empty experience.
A lot of the weeping is done by the balding, bearded hypochondriac (Adam Brooks). He does what bears do where bears do it — in the woods. There’s blood in the stool.
“I’m dying,” he wails to his desperately unhappy waitress/partner, Gigi (Julie Simpson). She cries and cries and he’s no comfort. “Stop crying, Gigi. Stop crying, Gigi.”
Hey, at least she’s given a name. Most characters in “Tapeworm” aren’t. Kyle (Milos Mitrovic ), a lump who plays a soccer video game at home all day while his sad mother (Jennifer Mauws) comes in from her in-home nursing job near tears, buying him clothes and food and getting nothing in return.
We don’t know who the stand-up comic (Alex Ateah) is. We know she has no idea what she’s doing. Her three minute sets performed to stony silence are death itself. It’s almost a relief when she suffers a brain injury.
Short film veterans Milos Mitrovuc and Fabián Velasco shot this in Winnipeg, so there’s a Tim Horton’s, a chocolate-covered donut and scene set by the river. Mr. Hypochondriac weeping at the foot of the bed with the copulating stoners stopping to comfort him.
The misery depicted here — rarely interrupted — is contagious.
Here’s the only funny line, one I’d swear was swiped from deadpan stand-up Steven Wright.
“I think I have a tapeworm…I’m keeping it.”
There are some rave reviews of this piffle, mostly from Slamdance. Stay off drugs, kid critics.
MPA Rating: unrated, drug use, nudity, scatological humor, profanity
Cast: Adam Brooks, Julie Simpson, Alex Ateah, Sam Singer, Stephanie Berrington, Jennifer Mauws, Milos Mitrovic, Dave Barber
Credits: Scripted and directed by Milos Mitrovic and Fabián Velasco. A Winnipeg Film Group release.
Running time: 1:18