It’s All Hallow’s Eve. A trio of costumed misfits with very special dietary requirements seizes a Mexican cantina and force the staff to engage in a late night of gaming, food and libations. The only caveat is what’s on the menu.
Ok kids…got a weird one here. I wasn’t sure to make of GRAVY at first. but I gotta be honest – it’s weird, disgusting, disturbing, and darkly funny. Just off the beaten path enough that I can dig it.
The film opens on a crummy little convience store in the middle of nowhere. It is obviously close to Halloween, as the store is decorated with pumpkins and other holiday related paraphenalia. Anson (Michael Weston) is buying a pint of sorbet but the cashier is not there. As he is about to simply take his item and leave without paying, the cashier Bethany (Sarah Silverman) comes running back in wearing a bunny costume. an obvious spark is seen between Anson and Bethany, setting the stage for a romantic comedy.
Yea, not so much. Anson drives away, parks outside of a Mexican restaurant and starts putting on a clown costume.
Stay with me…..
The restaurant is owned and managed by Chuy (Paul Rodriquez). He seems like a pretty awesome boss, as he is mentoring his staff to help improve their lives. His busboy Hector (Gabriel Luna) has aspirations to be a championship boxer, but Chuy is trying to help him build up his mind as well. Security gaurd Winketta (Gabourey Sidibe) Is trying to further her education and is a week away from getting her degree. We see her studying the Napoleonic Wars with the help of Yannick (Lothaire Bluteau), the French chef. Don’t ask me why there is a French chef in a Mexican restaurant.
Chuy’s bartender Kerry (Sutton Foster) is leaving the restaurant to start her new career as an EMT. So Chuy is planning a simple but sweet farewell party for her in the back of the restaurant after closing. Seems Chuy is doing a pretty good job instilling confidence in his staff.
Rounding out our cast of characters is the unfortunate Bert (Ethan Sandler), a customer drowning his sorrows at the bar after a failed marriage proposal earlier in the evening, and Cricket (Molly Ephraim), the waitress who’s trying to get out of there to crash a (community) college Halloween party.
Thus the stage is set. The restaurant has been closed for half an hour and Chuy sends Winketta out to bring Kerry back for the surprise party.
After a touching moment shared over flan, Chuy is inspecting the back door which appears to be stuck. He figures it is blocked from the outside somehow and sends Winketta around the building to see what might be in the way. Winketta comes around the corner in time to see a clown welding the front door shut.
In case you didn’t work it out on your own, the back door is also welded shut.
The nefarious clown, who is revealed to be Anson, and his co-conpsirators (Anson’s brother Stef, played by Jimmi Simpson and Stef’s British girlfriend Mimi, played by Lily Cole) quickly tie up the occupants of the restaurant and stuff Tangelos in their mouths (why tangelos? I have no idea, but Stef gets very upset when one of the hostages calls it an orange so apparently it’s important to him) and the long night begins.
So what exactly is going on? kIdnapping for ransom? Robbery? Something sexually deviant?
No it’s much worse than that. “One night a year, on the eve of every Hallows”, as Anson says, the three of them indulge in a bit of debauchery and culinary experimentation.
Yes, these people are about to be eaten.
Our hostages are forced to play a series of party games devised by Anson, Mimi, and Stef. The loser of each game becomes the next course in a long night of cannibalistic indulgence. Yannich is ordered to prepare the dishes throughout the evening. Basically, Yannich can either serve his companions to this crazy trio or become part of the meal himself.
What follows is a embarrassment of riches – gore, comedy, stunts, intellectual debate, even a bit of European military history (if you are not familiar with the Army of Portugal Cypher, do some research…trust me). Special effects were created by the very talented KNB EFX Group, with whom I am certain we are all familiar. But just in case….THE WALKING DEAD.
The film takes a bit to get started, introducing all the characters and setting up their backstories. Well, you actually don’t get much of a backstory on Stef and Anson, or why they do this weirdness once a year. I supose their reasoning doesn’t really matter.
A great cast, fun special effects, and some really stand-out performances make this a strange film worth watching. Seriously…just do it.
On a scale of one to ten, ten being awesome, I’m giving this film 8 Tangelos.
- Audio Commentary With James Roday, Sutton Foster And Jimmi Simpson
- What Is Gravy? Featurette