REVIEW: Cyst (2020) – Arrow Video FrightFest Digital Edition 2

dir. Tyler Russell.

Patricia (Eva Habermann) is having a rotten day. Working for mad skin clinician Dr Guy (George Hardy) is bad enough, as he merrily punctures pus filled boils and sends showers of discharge over her, but today’s also the day when he has the patent office in to sign off on his new device: “The Get Gone”, a turbo-vac / laser which he promises will revolutionise growth removal. The only issue is the last time he used it he nearly cut her arm off, and in any event none of his patients have a lump of sufficient magnitude to make an effective demonstration. So when the officials arrive (including Greg Sestero) to assess his creation, Guy smears some growth serum onto a poor volunteer’s cyst, creating a monster which may destroy them all.

Every now and then a film comes along that is so absolutely in love with it’s premise, so perfectly committed to the conventions of it’s genre, that it becomes an almost emblematic archetype. And Cyst, ladies and germs, is one such picture. Set in the 60s and riffing on the rubbery creature features of the era, director Russell makes no bones about his influences or aspirations. In particular the casting of B-movie royalty Hardy and Sestero – veterans of Troll 2 (1990) and The Room (2003), largely considered two of the worst films ever made – codifies his intention. In actuality Hardy is very good, his gurning mania deliciously on-point; though Sestero is wooden in a way which is less fun. However taken in the round the film emerges like a love-letter to trash cinema, and is all the better for it.

At a tight – barely feature-length – 69 minutes, the plot zips along at a brisk pace. Once the cyst monster is unleashed there’s plenty of gore and ropey monster suits as the survivors try to escape, though if anything Russell pulls back from the more outrageous body shock moments he might have gone to (as anyone who has watched TV show Dr Pimple Popper will know, real life is – almost – as surprising). For a film about a killer cyst such restraint is surprising, the potential levels of excess rarely fully realised.

And before your coffee has gone cold, it’s done. Short, sharp and self-confident: sometimes its just what the doctor’s ordered. Just make sure you eat beforehand.

Tim Coleman

CYST has its UK Premiere at the Arrow Video FrightFest Digital Edition 2 on 24th October 2020.

Published by Tim Coleman

Film critic. Screenwriter. Academic.

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