You wouldn’t think that a movie titled The Thingy: Confessions of a Teenage Placenta would be tame enough to be boring. Well, you would be wrong.
The Thingy, a release from Troma Entertainment, is a coming-of-age story about a living, sentient placenta. Treated like any other child, Luke, as the placenta-spawn is called, has the same trials and tribulations of any kid. He goes to school. He goes to church. He deals with bullies and girls. His single mother does everything she can to support him.
This is the most interesting aspect of The Thingy, and simultaneously its biggest misstep. The premise is played completely straight. The movie isn’t half as strange as the title would suggest. Taking away the fact that he is a placenta, almost nothing involving Luke, outside of the finale, is ridiculous or far fetched. That just leaves a sub-par story about a lonely child. Outside of two to three small moments, the story doesn’t even mention the fact that Luke isn’t human.
In fact, the oddest happenings all revolve around Luke’s mother, Marianne. Played by the very male Pascal Maetens, Marianne is some sort of competition bodybuilder. Except she only works out with one ludicrously fake arm. Marianne later explains her reasoning behind only having the one buff arm, but honestly, I kind of zoned out by that point.
“But,” you say, “this is a Troma film! It’s supposed to be low budget and weird!”
Don’t get me wrong, there are a few shocking and obscene moments, but they are too few and far between to offset the tedium of the story. It feels as if the filmmakers felt that having the main character be a placenta was shocking enough, but their commitment to not treating it as a joke actually works against them in this case. The story is generally so grounded that by the time the “shocking” final reel hits, it doesn’t actually feel genuine. Luke is supposed to be taking out his despair at being so radically different on innocent bystanders, but it wasn’t until only a few minutes before that his status is even mentioned as a negative. His motivation actually made it difficult to buy into, a consideration I find very odd making about a Troma film.
There are, actually, a few genuine laughs to be had throughout the movie (watching Marianne iron and daintily fold thongs never stopped being funny to me). A bully asks Luke what he has to offer to a girl, and then helpfully suggests, “Some amino acids?”
I think that Joël Rabijns and Yves Sondermeier do have some genuine talent. There are a few interesting shots and nice composition throughout, in addition to some fairly decent practical effects for the budget. However, the story being told is ripped in twain by their desire to tell some sort of allegorical satire versus a tacky low-budget shock fest.
Overall, The Thingy is an interesting watch, but it isn’t serious enough to be compelling and it isn’t weird enough to be entertaining schlock.
I’ll give it 2.5 Toxies out of 5.