Flatulent corpse and tickling at Sundance

Swiss Army Man is about a man (Paul Dano) stranded in the wild riding a corpse (Daniel Radcliffe) across the ocean, propelled by its farts.
Swiss Army Man is about a man (Paul Dano) stranded in the wild riding a corpse (Daniel Radcliffe) across the ocean, propelled by its farts.PHOTO: SWISSARMYMANFILM/FACEBOOK

PARK CITY, UTAH • It will be hard to beat Swiss Army Man, a comedic drama centred on an extremely flatulent, sexually aroused corpse played by Daniel Radcliffe, as the most warped entry at this year's Sundance Film Festival here.

The movie, about a suicidal man (Paul Dano) stranded in the wild who discovers the body and rides it across the ocean, propelled by the corpse's farts, prompted walkouts during its premiere last Friday.

Sundance, focused on independent films, has long been known for its quirks. Last year, the festival gave attention to Finders Keepers, a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction documentary about an amputated, mummified human leg at the centre of a custody battle.

But some attendees, especially distributors seeking potential hits, are complaining that this year's festival has fallen too deep into the art house rabbit hole.

The line-up also includes Wild, about a woman who has a sexual relationship with a wolf, and The Lure, a horror musical about bloodthirsty Polish mermaids.

Sundance guidebooks advertise The Greasy Strangler, a father-son comedic horror film, as "equal parts disgusting, offensive and manically entertaining". In its review, The Guardian describes it as an"avalanche of profanity, flatulence, fetishised cellulite, nauseating food, cartoon violence and close-ups of phalluses".

And there is Tickled.

A documentary that debuted at the festival on Sunday, it finds New Zealand television reporter David Farrier on a trek across the United States as he uncovers the truth behind underground events advertised as "competitive endurance tickling".

According to the film, the events - overseen by a New York man with family ties to a Wall Street law firm - involve paying young men to be tied up and tickled on camera.

"It seemed like a documentary was a great way to stop the victimisation," Mr Farrier said. "The participants are often misled and then bullied into staying quiet."

But Sundance programmers are proud of their line-up, noting that they do not evaluate films based on their potential to draw a paying audience.

"The criteria really hasn't changed," Mr John Cooper, Sundance's director, said last Thursday.

"We're still looking for new voices, we're looking for original ways to tell stories, we're looking for creativity."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2016, with the headline 'Flatulent corpse and tickling at Sundance'. Print Edition | Subscribe