‘A Most Atrocious Thing’ Make Believe 2024 Review: Indie Filmmaking At Its Chaotic Best

A Most Atrocious Thing

I regularly go into indie films with an awareness that the filmmakers don’t have access to the resources the studio system regularly has. I’m more comfortable maligning The Exorcist: Believer (even though it wasn’t all bad) because, broadly, the money and talent were there to make something good. It’s an ongoing critical struggle, wanting to remain optimistic while also recognizing the need not just to desire better things, but to use my platform to elucidate why things might not be so great. Which is to say, I went into Ben Oliphint and Christian Hurley’s A Most Atrocious Thing, premiering at this year’s Make Believe Seattle Film Festival, mindful of its limited means. Reportedly, the movie was made for a budget of just $5,000.

You wouldn’t know it from watching it, however. While A Most Atrocious Thing certainly doesn’t have the glitz of bigger-budgeted fare, it transcends financial constraints on account of sheer fun. Introductory narration spotlights some rather goofy young men embarking on a graduation trip into the Colorado wilderness, and that undercurrent of contagious goof augments  A Most Atrocious Thing throughout. It’s not simply a good micro-indie. It’s simply good.

Ben Oliphant’s Ben and crew coast along with quasi-stoner antics. It’s never quite as loud or obnoxious as it is in most indie horror comedies, and writers Max Shepardson, Ben Oliphint, Dylan Devol, and Christian Hurley imbue enough pathos into the character staging to supersede buddy comedy familiarity. They’re eager to let loose and have fun, Nerf Gun montage and all, blithely unaware that local puppet wildlife (including a standout deer) have been contaminated by toxic drinking water.

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They’re basically zombies, ravaging their way through the woods while infecting anyone unfortunate enough to consume their meat. And there’s a lot of meat, namely venison, consumption throughout, the gore quotient being met with recurrent scenes of sinewy fillet bites and upchucked gunk from upset stomachs. One by one, the friends succumb to their infection, though Ben and Dylan (Dylan Devol) contend with Ben’s move to New York, a movie he withheld from Dylan. The Goofy Gang (as introduced in the opening credits) just wants to stay together.

At its best, A Most Atrocious Thing reminds me in equal measure of both cult-classic Zombeavers and, curiously, Fabián Forte’s Legions from last year. Oliphint and Hurley’s feature is a heartfelt homage that makes the best use of limited resources. There’s an infectious behind-the-scenes zest that translates to the escalating set-pieces, whether that’s a last-act twist or Willow Creek-esque zombie deer assault.

Licensed music—including Train, Lesley Gore, and even Celine Dion—belie the budget. Effects are knowingly cheap yet effortlessly endearing. I’m never one to scoff at puppetry. The core of  A Most Atrocious Thing is guerilla filmmaking and it accomplishes that remarkably well. It’s ferocious, fun, tender, and a loving ode to the kind of genre cinema we don’t get often enough these days. Just some goofy guys hanging out, wondering what it might be like to make a movie. If they ever make another, there’s no doubt I’ll be there, too. It’s not atrocious at all.

  • A Most Atrocious Thing


A Most Atrocious Thing is micro-indie filmmaking at its most fun, frenetic best.

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