Maniacal humor feeding off of absurd horror makes up the six stories of Tyler Cornack’s horror anthology, Tiny Cinema. The otherworldly ominous aspects of it are both softened and guided by the genus of dark comedy that can most accurately be described as the antithesis of tasteful humor. An eerie host mimicking an all-powerful entity tells six unnerving tales while also showing off his ability to intrude on the characters’ personal space. The mood throughout is that of a thorough tour of a horror house at a creepy carnival. Besides some thematic resemblance and the recurring mention of the fictional county where two of the stories occur; there are no apparent connections between the people unfortunate enough to be a part of this lunacy.
The comedic tone switches between clear shades of unhinged nonsense and obvious jokes getting out of hand. Barring a few screw-ups, the combination of mindless humor and unpredictable horror works out for the movie, thanks to the gutsy execution. The theme, however, as warned by the Host, most certainly is only for the audience that doesn’t take offense.
The goal of Tiny Cinema is to be met with chuckles and gasps if the disgusting doesn’t bother you. Teasing the barbed wire of sanity with the ridiculous and improbable fates of people who start off seemingly normal; the movie has a way of getting to you the same way an odd, sinister nightmare would.
Tiny Cinema Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:
The madness gets a kickstart with the all-seeing Host’s (Paul Ford) alarming promise of a disturbing ride that is not for the faint-hearted. For the first story, Game Night, we tag along with the Thompsons’ friends as they receive a happy welcome into their house for a night of games and laughter. What seems to start as a rather wholesome gathering of the couple and their friends, turns into a scene of inconceivable anxiety as Bert (Austin Lewis) fails to understand his friend’s “that’s what she said” joke and gets obsessed with trying to uncover who “she” is. What follows is unfathomable chaos as he goes down the spiral of profound confusion and eventually a complete breakdown over something that is shockingly silly for the sane.
“Edna” allows us a peek at something that seems relatively comforting at first because of its universal relatability of love-craving but soon shows its real horrific face. Edna (Olivia Herman) stands over a bridge and contemplates ending her lonely, loveless life, having no clue that within seconds she will find love in the form of a male corpse in a body bag. She takes the corpse home and names him Ricky. Ricky is then found with Edna, doing everything a couple does in a world that seems alarmingly chill with a corpse sitting in a restaurant.
With the threat of a wild ride ahead, “Bust” stands right in the middle of three masked friends robbing a supermarket with their guns drawn. The context of the crime, without the possibility of the slightest predictability, turns out to be two friends Luke (Matt Rasku) and Jimmy helping their other friend Chris reach sexual climax as they’ve recently come to know that masked burglary is his only turn-on. The hysteria enwrapped in the highly nonsensical cloak of friendship results in deaths and heartfelt smiles.
“Deep Impact” and its somewhat mundane setting at the start is hardly foretelling of the mind-boggling state of utter confusion and frenzy that will soon emerge. Vick (Tyler Cornack) goes to deliver a strange package addressed to someone with whom he shares his name and meets a rather strange old man who claims to be his future self. Stranded there facing the dilemma of his life as he’s been told that the sexual manner of DNA exchange with his old self is the only way to stop the destruction of the earth; Vick chooses the “heroic” path.
“Motherfucker” being too literal in all possible sense, is the story of a joke between Italian mobsters going too far. Nothing is ever “tiny” in this movie despite its name. Tutti’s inappropriate sexual joke about Tony’s mother has him tied up in a car trunk, taken to Tony’s house, and forced to make his joke come true.
The goofiest of the lot, “Daddy’s home”, elevates the risk meter of blind dating to a terminal level. The bold move of snorting cocaine offered by his date lands Sam in a body horror nightmare which starts with the knowledge of the “cocaine” actually being the girl’s father’s ashes. The change starts small with his sudden appreciation of dad jokes and soon turns into a much more serious infestation of dad-like qualities which basically ruins his life.
Tiny Cinema Movie Ending, Explained:
Other than the tone ringing the same doomy bell in every story; the individualism of the themes explored in each story manages to stand out holding quite different shades. The world where the stories take place is weird enough to be strikingly different from the real world but similar enough so that the disturbing factors and the humor feel even more personal.
Pop culture fever:
Bert is a morbidly hilarious take on the usage of pop-culture references in daily life. For most, these references are the primary methods of communication. “That’s what she said”, being one of the most used phrases since The Office, provides the comfort of familiarity in a movie of the bizarre. It is possible that not getting the joke was the final push Bert needed for his hibernating issues to wake and throw him down the pit of insanity.
He never seems to get to the bottom of his maddening confusion and find an answer. The disturbing indifference of his wife Peggy when their friends visit again for another game night right after Bert almost crushed her hand down the garbage disposal sets the expectation for the kind of strangeness the audience should look forward to in the movie.
A Biblical rebirth with a human conclusion:
There’s a bright, almost Divine light over Ricky’s bed when he is Reborn after Edna injects him with a strange green substance. The Hebrew meaning of the name Edna being rejuvenation/rebirth fits right into the story. Ricky’s actual name turns out to be Cider which, according to his own words, is Biblical. However; the disillusionment of Edna when she really gets to know him humanizes the development of the story before diving right into the original horror theme by having Edna murder him.
An inflated mockery of Homies:
“How far can the boundaries of support be pushed in friendship?” is a question that has no place in the lives of Chris, Luke, and Jimmy. Little did we know that the exaggeration of supportiveness was relatively mellow when Luke and Jimmy broke into Chris’ house dressed up as burglars. The mockery reaches its crazy peak when they give their lives with a smile to finally see their friend reach sexual climax. The smiles on the faces of the cops only add to the amusing lunacy of it all.
Tough love of disgrace instead of generic preachiness:
The storytelling gives nothing away when it comes to how reliable or truthful Future-Vick really is. Anything is possible in a movie this absurd. Seeing the same tattoo on the Back To The Future-esque old man’s hand freaks Vick out and nudges him towards the possibility of the whole thing being real. Future-Vick also seems to know things about his current girlfriend.
The package containing a drawing from his childhood with the phrase “go fuck yourself” is another panic-inducing element that makes the ordeal funny and confusing. Traumatized Vick, after giving in to his future self’s demands, is about to leave when a pizza delivery guy arrives. The truth is revealed when we see the old man wiping off the tattoo and his computer screen is showing Vick’s social media. The point of it all becomes clear as he gets ready for his next victim. Everything he knows about them, he knows from their social media.
Oedipal shock with parodic undertones:
Taking things way too literally being one of the recurring themes in the movie perhaps gets its most awkward projection in the fifth story. It is no doubt that Tony is based on Tony Soprano of The Sopranos and aside from that, there’s no other clue about how the story will progress.
Despite expecting the worst or perhaps because of the hope for a different climax, it comes as a shock when Tutti is coerced into having sex with Tony’s mom and the whole group watches gleefully. Tony’s mother’s reaction to the whole thing indicates towards it being something recurrent and approved by everyone, including herself.
Daddy issues and shared psychosis:
If losing his hair, getting painful symptoms of old age, and losing control over his speech wasn’t enough; Sam’s misfortune takes him right to the center of hell when he visits Kristina at her place. Dressed and acting like a little girl, she chases him around the house as he loses his motor skills and ends up in the basement of eternal horrors. There stand the men that Kristina had dated before him, including the blind guy she mentioned on their date. Her psychosis seems to have rubbed off on all of them as they all address him as Daddy. The old man handing over his Daddy apron to Sam has a resemblance to her actual father. It would not be too far of a reach to assume that her father is indeed alive, looking for a “Daddy” for his daughter and the whole thing that Sam and the other men are going through is a case of shared psychosis, exaggerated for the sake of the theme.
The faux easter eggs placed throughout the movie are unnerving, interesting, and funny at the same time. Ricky is reborn as Cider at Kritika county hospital. The manner of showing the name of the hospital is intentionally attention-drawing. There’s a nail-biting effect left by it and that fades away by the time Kritika express turns out to be the name of the company where Vick works. Drawing attention to that detail once again only to get the audience excited and then deserting it completely, might be a prank that can’t be put past this movie.