[Fantasia 2020 Review] '#ShakespearesShitstorm' is a Whirlwind of Gross-Out Insanity and Scathing Commentary
The definition of Shitstorm: A Troma film…
…Or so the latest from Troma creator and director Lloyd Kaufman opens, #ShakespearesShitstorm, having just made its World Premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival. Dipping in the well of Shakespeare for the first time since Tromeo and Juliet, Troma returns to sucking the bard dry with this adaptation of one of his later plays, The Tempest.
And holy shitstorm, Batman.
Being familiar with the work of Troma and Kaufman should prepare you for Shitstorm. Drugs should help you digest Shitstorm. But no amount of preparation-H can ready you, and there is no high high enough to make Shitstorm any easier of a Troma-laced pill to swallow. Not just because it’s by far the most offensive film you’ll see all year, but because it feels like Lloyd’s goodbye.
And before you freak out, that isn’t to say Lloyd is going anywhere. The guy has 10+ films in post-production. But it is to say, he won’t be around forever.
Written by Brandon Bassham, #ShakespearesShitstorm tells basically the same story as The Tempest, but with loads of literal shit. After a shipwreck caused by whales with diarrhea (some of you are already out), a crew made up of SJW types find themselves on an island, Tromaville, New Jersey, to be exact, where they are invited to a party by a mad-scientist Prospero (Lloyd Kaufman), who has eyes on getting “brutal vengeance” against his sister, Antoinette, who happens to be part of the crew…the most bizarre vengeance you’ve ever witnessed with your own two, bulging out of your head eyes.
One of the last plays that Shakespeare wrote alone, The Tempest is considered by some as Shakespeare’s farewell to the stage through Prospero’s renunciation of magic. In that sense, #Shakespeares Shitstorm is sort of like Lloyd's renunciation of the way we perceive art or anything really, through the character of Prospero, a man that absolutely despises political correctness. Pretty easy to see the parallels between Troma and how the studio’s films are typically received by the public.
And oh boy, does this film poke fun at the current state of hyper-hypocritical social media in ways that are going to piss off just oh so many people, but at least it has a fun time doing it.
If you’re going into #ShakespearesShitstorm expecting some level of high-quality entertainment, you have adorable judgement, friend. Shakespeare’s Shitstorm at no point pretends to be anything other than the offensively crass, juvenile yet silly and surprisingly gory Willy Wonka meets the Jackass crew film it is.
There is no joke or bar that is too low for #ShakespearesShitstorm. This film has pooping whales, shit tornadoes, references to the Shining elevators but with shit instead of blood (well, maybe a little blood), Lloyd Kaufman singing about shit, Island of Doctor. Moreau type experiments including a chicken with a dick on its chest, a cock cock, if you will, a swordfish through the eye and more close-ups of assholes of all sorts than in the most hardcore of anal porn flicks…and that’s just the first act!
The cast brings an energy to match the nonsensical chaos, with fun performances from Prospero’s blind, horny daughter, Miranda (Kate McGarrigle), crackwhore with an electrolarynx, Ariel (Amanda Flowers), and well-known genre star Debbie Rochon as Senator Sebastian. Everyone in this cast seems to be having a good time and knows exactly what kind of bonkers film they’re in.
Some things never change, and Troma is one of those things. And that’s kind of the point. See, the whole crew on the ship is involved with a company creating Safespacia, a treatment for Entitlementia, a “serious” ailment that results in extreme narcissism, an allergy to micro aggressions, you get the idea. Not exactly subtle on the whole we’ve wrapped ourselves in social media bubbles that allow us to avoid any sense of reality outside of our beliefs message, but when has Troma ever been subtle? Plus, there’s some poopy kernels of truth to all of this.
Just to prove his point, Lloyd’s film indulges in just about anything that can be deemed offensive. If you’ve been offended by it, it’s in this movie. Fat jokes, racism, farts, ass-licking, suicide jokes, jokes about bloggers, feminists…the list goes on. #ShakespearesShitstorm doesn’t just set out to upset anyone who would consider themselves a SJW, but means to infuriate them, with lines like “No social justice warrior can survive perspective,” as one dies from the actual gaining of perspective.
But that’s just it. #ShakespearesShitstorm may come off like a juvenile middle finger to SJWs, and I don’t blame anyone that sees it that way, but what it’s really talking about is how this culture has become so reactionary and unforgiving, forming a mob-like mentality, and that sometimes, it’s good to remember that we’re all in this world together and need to step back and take a breath. Lloyd makes a point of including a scene with critics and a foul-mouthed Shakespeare (Frazer Brown) receiving harsh criticism from a test audience, because he knows this movie is going to offend some. He wants it to offend you, if only to further the point.
“Social justice warriors, come out to play,” one character says, inviting SJWs to take out their rage on Prospero and his non-PC ways, using an actual “Snowflake” symbol in the sky like some SJW Bat signal to draw them in, in turn inviting viewers to do the same.
If you’re far left thinking, you’re going to think #ShakespearesShitstorm is just about attacking you and your ideals (it isn’t). If you’re far right thinking, you’re going to think it’s all about owning the libs (it’s not). This is an undeniably unpredictable film, an irrationally rational societal commentary made by Troma for Troma fans specifically, which is what Troma has always done, and what continues to make them a studio that is loved by their fans. Fellow depraved weirdos are going to want Lloyd and Troma to adapt every Shakespeare play after seeing #ShakespearesShitstorm, while “normies” will wish for Lloyd to never make another film again. That vastly split reception is reflective of the strange brilliance that is #ShakespearesShitstorm.
By Matt Konopka