Tapeworm is bleak and sad and occasionally wanders into the realm of Lynchian absurdity, but mostly stays in a colorless, drab Winnipeg awkwardness.

The movie opens weirdly enough: The Hypochondriac (Adam Brooks) — unnamed in the actual dialog and credits — takes a crap in the woods. He stares, aghast, as he (and we, unfortunately) sees his stool is full of blood.

(As an aside, why is “stool” the prefered word here? Anything medical seems to go to “stool,” which is not a particularly scientific term. You never really use the word otherwise.)

The Hypochondriac wanders off into the woods, encountering a young Stoner Couple (Sam Singer and Stephanie Berrington) bonking on an abandoned mattress by the side of a stream. Uninvited, he sits on the edge of the mattress. They stop as soon as they seem him, of course, but he instructs them “Please continue. Please continue.” And then starts to cry when they do.

Cut to credits, to strains of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.”

You’d think this was going to be a comedy, but you’d be wrong. Tapeworm is bleak. The unnamed characters are bleak. No one finds any joy, ironically, and the cinematography focuses repeatedly on the dull surroundings of what appears to be Winnipeg. Now, I’ve never been to Winnipeg, but I doubt this film is going to be a favorite of their tourist board.

Other characters include the Hypochondriac’s Wife (Julie Simpson), who cries (because she is unnamed, I have no way to know which actor is her. Possibly Alex Ateah by process of elimination). A failed Comedian who cries. And a disaffected young Loner (Milos Mitrovic) and despondent Mother (Jennifer Mauws), who don’t cry, but probably should.

The tagline is “A hypochondriac, a failed comedian, a loner and two naive stoners seek an escape from their pitiful and mundane existence.” Their stories mostly don’t overlap. The Hypochondriac thinks he is dying and his wife is cheating on him. The Wife works in a diner and cries in the back. The Loner plays video games and rolls his eyes a lot. His Mother cares for a head trauma patient. The Comic is dull and says “um” a lot, until she becomes afore-mentioned patient.

The Stoners just kind of mosey through life not loving each other:

“Do you love me?”

“No. Do you love me?”

“No”

“Harsh.”

“Will you come to my funeral if I die?”

“Yep.”

The majority of the film is introducing dismal character after dismal character. When they cross paths it never seems meaningful.

There are funny moments. When the Hypochondriac tells his Wife that he has a tapeworm, he then startles her by proclaiming, “I’m keeping it.” But overall it’s awkward to watch, slow-paced and dull. I feel sorry for everyone. Hell, I feel sorry for myself, now.

A bleak 4 out of 10

 

Tapeworm
RATING:UR
Runtime:1 hr 18 Mins.
Directed By:
Written By: