Otto; or, Up With Dead People (2008) – Horror Movie Review

movie poster Otto or Up with Dead People 2008

I think Otto is a zombie movie; or, at least a movie within the movie stars zombies. Despite not being the film I expected, I can’t say watching was a complete disappointment. Of course, when it comes to movies, I’m extremely open-minded and don’t mind characters engaged in acts of homosexuality. Read: gay zombie porn.

2 1/2 stars out of 5

I watched Otto; or, Up With Dead People online via Netflix Watch Instantly in August 2009 and it’s been waiting in my review notebook ever since. Okay, okay: I watched one particular scene more than once; but, in my defense, I had to show it to a few other people. C’mon, it’s just too funny and shocking not to share.

In all fairness, there are clues for the unsuspecting movie geek who stumbles onto this film by accident. The cover of the DVD on Netflix, while focused on Otto, shows another young man in a provocative pose. Yeah, I missed that clue. The next clue comes from the Netflix synopsis:

Controversial filmmaker Bruce La Bruce‘s irreverent take on zombie movies centers on a cheerless, undead teenager named Otto, whose quest for love and acceptance outstrips his hunger for flesh. Feeding on roadkill, Otto wanders the streets contemplating his existence and looking for a job in this unapologetically campy German import. Jey Crisfar, Katharina Klewinghaus, Susanne Sachsse and Marcel Schlutt star.

“Yay, a coming of age zombie tale” is all I thought. Maybe I should’ve asked why Bruce LaBruce is considered a controversial filmmaker. I missed that clue, too. Had I bothered to ask then answer that question prior to watching Otto, I definitely would’ve known what kind of writer / director I was dealing with. But, you could also say, by not knowing what I was going into, the shock level was ratcheted up about 100%, and I love to be shocked, even to the point of hysterical laughter mixed with retching.

I double-checked the genre on a few different movie sites, and sure enough, it’s labeled “zombie horror,” but as I find so often in life, what something is labeled and what it actually is can be two totally different things. I found Otto to be more character-driven than plot-driven, which is what I would expect from a “campy…contemplating his existence” type of film. Therefore, I don’t think a plot synopsis from my perspective will help you in the decision to watch or skip this movie.

Maybe you would rather know about the full frontal male nudity. Or the intercourse with open wounds. Or the unsimulated orgy sprinkled with bloody body parts. All of which, when taken out of context, sounds really scandalous, right?

Personally, if I hadn’t expected something completely different, I probably wouldn’t have been so shocked. There’s plenty of real-life porn available with way more offensive behavior. But I felt compelled to share the sort of images you will see if you decide to take a risk on Otto.

While I applaud the slap in the face to mainstream audiences, who have little to no issue with the amount of straight sex that’s everywhere, Otto is not a perfect film by any means. At worst, it’s a not-so-good gay zombie film with splashes of hardcore porn. At best, it’s an attempt at allegory and/or heavy social commentary…with splashes of hardcore porn. However, I did not enjoy the amount of time we’re forced to watch Otto walk–he walks along the highway, through the forest, through the city, and possibly other places. I zoned out during the neverending walks.

Those scenes almost made me want to stop the movie, but I didn’t. Why? Mainly because I liked Otto–even after he ate the hell outta that bunny. I connected with how Otto felt about himself, other people, and the world. And Jey Crisfar was key to Otto’s emotional appeal. The narration was excessive in parts and, along with the neverending walks, caused the pace of the movie to drag. In my opinion, the pace was what ruined the film. Had it been just a skoach faster, I probably would’ve rated Otto 3 1/2 stars.

In closing, I find it rather amusing to find so many reviews that read something like this, “I’m not homophobic but this movie is just gay porn and it sucked.” Hmm, usually when someone makes a point to say they are not something, they usually are: e.g. “I’m not a racist but…” or “I’m not judging but…” and on and on. For the record, I’m a straight woman.

And it never ceases to amaze me how many people leave a review in which they list no reason why they thought the movie “sucked.” I don’t know about you, but I take those kinds of reviews with a grain of salt because those individuals obviously can’t articulate any evidence to back up their opinion. Those individuals posted a reaction, not a review.

Does Otto sound like a movie you can’t wait to see?

Or a movie you can’t wait to forget ever hearing about?


If you’re a Netflix subscriber, click here for Otto‘s page.

Otto official web site.

Otto on IMDb.

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