Film Review: PG: Psycho Goreman (2020)
Say what you want about the genre, but the last few years have been very good to horror movies. Horror has always had its place in the mainstream, but, with services like Shudder gaining ground, and higher-tier directors working within the genre to elevate the material - Mike Flannigan, Ari Aster, Jordon Peele, to name a very, very few, fright flicks are doing very, very well these days. It’s honestly pleasing and refreshing to see the genre taken so seriously, and to see horror as what it truly can be - a way to explore the darker parts of the world, while either taking it deadly serious (The Dark and The Wicked being a recent, prime example), or taking the piss and reveling in all of the cheese, gore, and fun the genre can offer. For this latter approach to horror, you’re going to have to work to find something more celebratory and fun as PG: Psycho Goreman.
Written and directed by Astron-6 alum Steven Kostanski, PG: Psycho Goreman is an absolute blast harkening back to the days of copious grue dished out by grown adults in rubber monster suits. The plot, which cuts to the chase immediately and really never slows, centers around a young girl (Mimi, played by the hilarious and adept Nita-Josee Hanna) and her older brother, Luke (whom she is both close to and also bullies, relentlessly) accidentally discovering and awakening an extraterrestrial, demonic, hyper-violent warrior - whom Mimi soon dubs “Psycho Goreman,” or “PG for short.” The children first discover a glowing gem, which Mimi quickly claims possession over, and this gem both awakens and controls PG - leaving Psycho Goreman an unwilling yet obedient slave to Mimi, which leads to many hilarious exchanges of dialogue between to two, with PG verbally vomiting promises death, doom, and destruction to the children, and leaving the kids, including Mimi and Luke’s friend Alastair, to react in a very nonplussed, unimpressed manner.
Over the course of the very fast paced film, PG slaughters Earthlings and alien warriors alike - as the aliens who first banished PG from his home world are aware of his awakening and send emissaries to stop PG. The violence in this film is both ultra-gory and ridiculously over-the-top, and the effects, mostly practical, are incredibly fun and well-executed. The real conflict, however, becomes apparent as Mimi’s control over PG both endangers the family (including the parents, played perfectly by Alexis Hancey and Astron-6’s Adam Brooks) and pushes a wedge between her and Luke, a relationship already tense due to Mimi’s alpha personality and bullying habits. To say much more about this would be to spoil what serves as the films emotional core, and, if the film offers only one bit of seriousness, it would be a shame to spoil it. There's also a small issue of the fast-paced editing almost cutting too quickly from one scene to another, sometimes making for a disorienting experience; however, this is a film that needs to move fast and furiously, and to slow it down too much would most certainly be a disservice.
PG: Psycho Goreman is a blast from beginning to end, but, like most films, there are elements that could be explored to a stronger degree. Without spoiling the ending, the emotional journey between Mimi and Luke could have been strengthened through a rewrite, but, to push this element any more throughout the film could potentially the fun, freewheeling atmosphere of PG: Psycho Goreman, and, even worse, could have diluted Mimi’s character, which would be a grave injustice, indeed. It was honestly refreshing to see a young girl characterized in such a manner - a leader who is both flawed in her personality, but also strong and sure of herself, and not afraid to dish out the attitude. Throughout the course of the film, Mimi seemed very reminiscent of a female Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbs), being unapologetic regarding her place in the film’s world. Yes, as stated before, the reconciliation between Mimi and Luke could have been stronger, but, again, this is not that kind of a film, and it’s very much appreciated that the tone of the film errs on being “just serious enough.” This is, ultimately, a rubber monster gore romp, first and foremost.
It’s early in 2021, and, with Kong Vs Godzilla and Halloween Kills (to name a very, very few) on the horizon, there is going to be a lot of competition in the horror genre this year… but, even just weeks into the year, it’s going to be hard to find a more joyously gross, fun, and unapologetically silly as PG: Psycho Goreman.