Holy shit, this fucking movie blew my mind.

A hapless high school guidance counselor (Santiago Vasquez) is just trying to save everyone, most importantly a student who could care less named Luther (Ramon Armstrong). He’s made promises to everyone — his wife that he’ll attend their daughter’s recital and bring her a rabbit, other teachers that he’ll deal with Luther and to Luther, he claims that he will finally attend a martial arts class after bragging that he has thirty years of fighting experience — only to ruin everything. A gang wants the money that Luther has stolen from their leader’s mother, a gun battle breaks out in the dojo and soon Santiago has gone from Kansas City, Missouri to the dark side of Kansas City, Kansas where he will be stripped of his clothes, nearly his manhood and most certainly his sanity as he faces off with man-eating dogs, RV-driving senior citizen swingers, having to wear piss-covered women’s slippers, being dosed with several drugs, encountering occult rituals and a church balcony candle swordfight.

Director Gary Huggins co-wrote this movie with Betsy Gran (who plays Betsy in the movie) and it’s the kind of journey into the heart of all night darkness we haven’t seen in movies in some time. There’s some incredible camera work by Michael Wilson and Todd Norris that makes this film feel absolutely frantic. You may also feel some anxiety because so many animals are placed in harm’s way — the credits state no animals were harmed and all were loved — particularly Tripp, a three-legged chihuahua who stumbles his way through every moment of the movie and right into your heart.

When this is out of festivals and available on a wider basis, you need to seek it out. This is one of the best films I’ve seen in 2022.

This movie was part of the Another Hole in the Head film festival, which provides a unique vehicle for independent cinema. This year’s festival takes place from December 1st – December 18th, 2022. Screenings and performances will take place at the historic Roxie Cinema, 4 Star Theatre and Stage Werks in San Francisco, CA. It will also take place On Demand on Eventive and live on Zoom for those who can not attend the live screenings. You can learn more about how to attend or watch the festival live on their Eventlive site. You can also keep up with all of my AHITH film watches with this Letterboxd list.

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