J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Residue: The Evil Book of Slime

It is nice to know a detective like Luke Harding has an analytical mind, even if he has been underemployed on bottom-feeding cases lately. He has already read deeper into a book of forbidden knowledge than many a trained scholar. It is not exactly a page-turner, only partly because of the evil black goo oozing out of its binding. Even though it plays games with his head, Harding has no choice but to read on in Rusty Nixon’s Residue (trailer here), which releases today on VOD.

It started with a strange job for Mr. Fairweather, a sleazy wrestling promoter and low rent crime boss. He was supposed to dig up dirt on ten upstanding-looking citizens, but one really seemed to be as squeaky clean as he acts. Fairweather’s second job was to deliver a package to this straight arrow, but it is nearly intercepted by henchmen working for Mr. Lamont, the city’s real kingpin. Regrouping at his apartment, Harding inadvertently starts reading the book, sealing his fate.

He quickly deduces the book warps readers’ perception of time and reality. Rather ominously, he finds himself doing the same tasks over and over, due to short term memory loss. However, he will get organized, charting the Herzogian explorers progress through the jungle in the pages he has read, while documenting his own progress through the book. It is not a great time for Harding’s grown daughter to crash with him, but he cannot turn her away.

Nixon creates a lot of colorful lore related to the book, giving it some decidedly insidious powers. The father-daughter relationship is also surprisingly engaging. It is only the rival gangster stuff that feels ho-hum. Granted, the book’s ability to wreak cosmic mayhem seems to evolve with each page turned, but it is still relatively true to its Necronomicon inspiration.

James Clayton and Taylor Hickson actually pull-off some redemptive drama as the Hardings. Matt Frewer chews plenty of scenery as Fairweather, even while laboring under a wonderfully ludicrous and gruesome prosthetic (probably bringing back memories of his old Max Headroom days). It is also good clean fun to watch William B. Davis, the X-Files’ cigarette-smoking man, do his thing as Mr. Lamont. Such range he has.

Residue definitely has its rough edges, but its inventive and rather likably nutty. Frankly, it is refreshing to see a gory multi-genre caper that doesn’t double-down on cynicism. Recommended for fans of slimy noir, Residue is now available on VOD platforms, including iTunes.

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