‘The Mean One’ review: A Killer Grinch mauls you to death in an unauthorized parody of Dr. Seuss

The clown from “Terrifier 2” stars in a bloody parody of Dr. Seuss’ classic holiday tale that doesn’t have the manners to be funny.

Dr. Seuss’ children’s story “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” It has likely stood the test of time because of its simple yet effective message: The Christmas season has more to do with community than material elements. There’s also the villain named “Bah! Bullshit!” The soul in the face of borderline oppressive monsoon delight is understandable as his ultimate salvation. The tale has been adapted for the big and small screen many times, from the beautiful 1966 animated TV movie directed by Chuck Jones to the ugly Ron Howard starring Jim Carrey as the live-action Grinch. The bare-bones plot of the source material and the images pervasive make it a flexible script suitable for a wide range of interpretations, the latest being “The Mean One,” an unauthorized parody starring David Howard Thornton, aka the man behind Art the Clown in the “terrifying” movies.

Director Stephen Lamoert has repurposed iconic Sussex for a low-budget horror/holiday-movie mash-up that strains for the campy B-movie of Syfy’s “Sharknado” series. Cindy You-Know-Who (Krystle Martin) From the mountain town of Newville – see where this is going? – Watch a green-skinned monster (Thornton) dressed as Santa Claus kill her mother when she was a baby. Twenty years later, Cindy returns to Newville to sell the family home, only to discover that the Beast is still terrorizing the town. After Cindy’s father is horribly killed by a monster, Cindy tries to warn the town that they are in danger, but her fears are summarily dismissed by the mayor (Eric Baker) and the Trump-like sheriff (Amy Schumacher). To avenge her parents, she must kill the creature herself once and for all.

There’s a lot of fun to be had with using fair use law to turn a classic Sousa story into a bloody funny one, but Lamoert and screenwriters Flip and Finn Kobler aren’t quite up to the task. Everyone involved with “The Mean One” takes its absurd premise seriously, with the possible exception of Thornton himself, who at least tries to enjoy the Grinch’s nonverbal, mass-murdering gameplay. Instead, the film bafflingly welcomes the horrific cruelty of its trauma narrative (again, involving the Grinch slaughtering anyone in the spirit of the holiday) as well as the painfully honest melodrama that’s so integral to made-for-TV movies. The parody is in theory supposed to be funny, but it’s almost as if there was an explicit directive not to crack any jokes, let alone show any fun, in a movie that intentionally avoids copyright infringement to bring the sadistic Grinch to theaters.

Even the film’s mischievous use of the First Amendment leaves a lot to be desired. Certainly, they can’t actually say the word “Grinch”, a fact that is hinted at anytime a character comes close to saying the word. There are also minor references to shoes too tight and hearts two sizes too small, as well as a riffing vocal narration that broadly recalls Boris Karloff from the original adaptation. Besides those obligatory nods, “The Mean One” shows so much general snark that Cindy might even get revenge on a squeamish bear angry with Christmas lights and red suits. Cobbler expends a lot of energy trying to flesh out 2D properties and a “believable” backstory for the continued existence of the monster, which includes a local government conspiracy that goes straight to the top but mainly involves an unburied IP address, when accepting the sheer absurdity of the concept would be the best option.

Without any comedy to speak of in a spoof movie that only has names, what’s left is a pretty cheap slasher slasher. It’s probably unfair to criticize the production values ​​of a movie like “The Mean One,” which proudly flaunts its low budget like so many B movies of the past. Still, it’s hard to ignore the flashy color grading that looks like day-night photography has gone horribly awry, the inappropriate splatter of digital blood that punctuates every kill scene, or the ridiculous editing choices that seem to actively fight visual continuity. Annoying dialogue goes hand in hand with mediocre performances, and neither would be much of an issue if they were in service of a film with a more goofy sensibility. Few moments of amusement are limited to a rehearsal montage set to a metal version of “Carol of the Bells,” a sequence silly enough to be moderately amusing, and the utterly bewildering choice of Office Burke (Chase Mullins), Cindy’s love interest and friend, to mention repeatedly. And repeating that he’s Jewish, which is a weird non-sequitur or a nod to the Hallmark/lifetime metaphors that have covered my head.

While The Mean One wraps up in a predictable, albeit somewhat retrograde message that summoning atrocities leads people (or Grinches?) to transform into deadly monsters, it also acknowledges the involvement of social media in the film’s existence. Originally a trailer that ostensibly became a viral sensation, “The Mean One” prompted LaMorte to create a full-length feature. The movie certainly plays like a 90-minute version of a two-minute joke that doesn’t even have the decency to be funny. The Grinch killer’s visual gag is good for a snort or a half-hearted chuckle. If you build a feature film around it, you become the Grinch yourself.

Grade: D+

Atlas Film Distribution will release The Mean One in Regal Theaters on Friday, December 9th.

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