"A Most Atrocious Thing" (2024) [Make Believe Seattle]

by Joseph Perry and Mike Imboden

In our “The Good, the Bad, and the Verdict” film reviews, Joseph and Mike give their thoughts on a slice of cinema. For this installment, it’s the comedy/horror A Most Atrocious Thing by Ben Oliphint, Christian Hurley, and BoxFort.

When a group of friends (including codirectors/cowriters Ben Oliphint and Christian Hurley, and cowriters Dylan DeVol and Max Shepardson) preparing to step out into adulthood get together for a wild weekend getaway, they make the tragic mistake of eating infected deer meat, thus turning them into crazed, bloodthirsty maniacs.

The Good
Joseph: The main ensemble cast members, most of whom had a hand in one way or another on the other side of the cameras, give group-of-friends performances that feel realistic. That makes sense, as the core group attended university together. The $5,000 budget shows, often deliberately, but the creativity behind that budget is the heart of the film. The pacing is solid, and the makeup and gore effects — most of which were reportedly devised by what the filmmakers could find at the area WalMart — are impressive considering the budgetary limitations.

Mike: It’s obvious that this had zero to no budget, but this fact is heavily outweighed by the cleverness, grit, and earnestness that is (just as obviously) on display here - there’s no pretensions about trying to create anything other than a film about a bunch of dudes having fun.  And honestly? That’s the best part of A Most Atrocious Thing.  The friendship these guys have carries over into the film and I really felt like I was watching five friends (and two cats running really late) hang out resulting in some fun segments in the first act as they settle into their getaway.
While somewhat laughable, the “mad deer” is well made and the FX for the blood and bodily damage is well done considering I probably spent more in groceries this past week than it cost them to put it all together.

The Bad
Joseph: Stoner and bro humor rarely do much for me, and that’s certainly the case here — and it is indeed plentiful. The plot point of a friend going away to college and only giving their best friend short notice is something I saw in real life during the end of my senior year in high school, so I would think that the best friend being mad about it in this film is something college graduates would have grown out of. Although I could get into the spirit of deliberately cheap-looking special effects with A Most Atrocious Thing, that is not always the case, so I can see that being a turn-off for some viewers.

Mike: The low-budget approach may turn some viewers off who will find the “mad deer” a bit cheesy (or worse), but since they are clearly not the target demographic, I don’t think this should be of too much concern.
Now, I run the risk of falling into “old man” territory here which may be due to the fact that I technically AM an old man, but the stoner-bro thing doesn’t fly as well with me as it used to and for that reason alone I add a knock against A Most Atrocious Thing.  
I also would have liked to have seen a bit more in terms of characterization and a little more originality in the subplot involving the “friend hasn’t told other friend that s/he’s leaving”, a trope that is pretty well played out.

The Verdict
Joseph: The “Let’s put on a show!” spirit is strong with A Most Atrocious Thing. You’ll see influences from The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II along with zombie tropes aplenty, but the chutzpah and verve the filmmaking friends invested in the film is the real draw here, not stellar originality in the plot. Recommended for fans of horror comedy, zombie fare, and anyone interested in how to make an entertaining feature on a microbudget.

Mike: Like most films, this does have a few minor faults - in this case mainly revolving around some of the writing - but there’s much more going on that is likable about it to make those faults forgivable and easily looked beyond.
While the dude-bro shenanigans and demeanor of the characters may not be everyone’s cup of tea, there’s a level of camaraderie on display that more than makes up for it.  Clearly these real-life friends had a good time making this and their enthusiasm shows.
If you’re looking for a fun little low budget romp featuring a group of friends hanging out in the woods and dealing with the aftereffects of eating some hellishly under-cooked and tainted deer meat, A Most Atrocious Thing should be your jam if you get a chance to catch it.

A Most Atrocious Thing
, from BoxFort and Camp Wassong Productions screened as part of the Make Believe Seattle Film Festival on Friday, March 22nd.  For more information, go to https://makebelieveseattle.eventive.org/welcome

A Most Atrocious Thing
Directed By: Ben Oliphint, Christian Hurley
Written By: Max Shepardson, Ben Oliphint, Dylan Devol, Christian Hurley
Starring: Ben Oliphint, Dylan Devol, Christian Hurley
Run Time: 1h 15m
Rating: NR
Release Date: 2024