Movie Review: ‘Bad Milo’

In theaters and on demand

“Bad Milo,” written by Benjamin Hayes and Jacob Vaughan, directed by Vaughan, 85 minutes, rated R.

Stress can lead to any number of ailments, both physical and mental. From heart disease to sleep disorders, when you begin to buckle under life’s pressure, and are rendered incapable of managing it, bad things tend to happen.

Take Duncan (Ken Marino), for instance, the protagonist of “Bad Milo,” the latest film from Jacob Vaughan. Duncan’s anxiety comes from several sources: His boss (Patrick Warburton), puts him in charge of layoffs while the investment firm he works for is investigated for unlawful business practices; his mother (Mary Kay Place), pushes for grandchildren; his girlfriend (Gillian Jacobs) wants to start a family; and he’s never known his deadbeat father.

What at first appears to be common, yet intense, gastrointestinal problems turns out to be much greater. And the polyp discovered in Duncan’s colon? It’s actually a lumpy, ferocious creature with tiny daggers for teeth, who has taken up residence inside Duncan. Milo, as it comes to be known, is a manifestation of Duncan’s pent-up stress, and is now a part of him. When Duncan becomes unable to handle stress, Milo unleashes himself, putting a bloody end to the root cause of Duncan’s discontent.

Not knowing who to turn to, Duncan seeks the help of a loony therapist (Peter Stormare) with the hopes of controlling his stress and keeping Milo where he belongs.

If “Bad Milo” sounds a little out there, let me reassure you that it certainly is. Finding inspiration in creature features from the 1980s, such as Joe Dante’s “Gremlins” or Stephen Herek’s “Critters,” Vaughan strikes a tone that matches the absurdity of the story. Coupled with this off-beat homage is a quick, dry sense of humor that is in line with the brand established by Mark and Jay Duplass (“Jeff Who Lives at Home,” “Baghead”), executive producers on this film.

Of course, as any film about a murderous monster grown in someone’s bowels would, “Bad Milo” digs deep for some of its laughs, relying on a few rather shameless gags that will work for the right audience. With that said, there also is a straightforward message here that never gets lost – a warning to all of those who let the day-to-day emotional strain build up, and bury it instead of facing it.

Equally important, however, “Bad Milo” is silly, gross, mildly gory and occasionally funny.

Grade: B-

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