“Krokodil is a homemade drug. It combines codeine, lighter fluids, gasoline, paint thinner, alcohol, and other ingredients.” This fast growing Russian street drug gnaws along the inner layers of one man’s insides and clawing its way out. Also, the drug deteriorates his mental stability, invigorating extreme hallucinations from his damaged cerebral equilibrium and manifesting faux body images of himself as well as inviting humanoid demons into his tattered reality. The powerful opioid, if fabricated haphazardly, induces prolonged and deathly ill effects, both physical and mental, and as his body has survived in a post-nuclear world, his mind is as much of a ramshackle as the rest of the world is in ruin. As he spirals down, out of control, through the opioid rabbit hole, he becomes only a shell of himself, transforming into the purest toxicity of the drug that creates alligator scale-like sores over portions of his body.
The need to put the definition of Krokodil” first and foremost, in front of the plot summary above, felt necessary. Director Domiziano Christopharo made it essential to do the same prior to the credits of his 2012 film “Red Krokodil.” To the average joe, the very mention of “krokodil” means nothing other than a seemingly skewed, alternate version of the English word crocodile, but the gore and shock director, best known for his debut work “House of Flesh Mannequins,” wanted the background behind the street drug to sink in, to be injected, to be snorted, and to be smoked before audiences continue with their trip through the breakup of the body. Based off a script written by Francesco Scardone, the Italian director had set the stage with his grippingly ghastly tale telling talents toward the dominion of body horror combined with ample psychological manipulation from substance abuse and while Christopharo is no David Cronenberg, the eclectic filmmaker cycles the story through a poetic flow with mostly an off-screen monologue approach that gives glimpses of a degenerative mindset.
Co-producer of the film, Brock Madson, also stars as the withering drug addict. There are hints Madson plays the character named Arthur, but the film only credits the character as simply him, and theoretically, that’s proportionate to the storyline staged as a post-apocalyptic world where it’s just him, ensnared and isolated. The role’s non-verbal role leaves Madson to go full-throttle in physicality with a semi-to-fully nude performance and he maintains an animated disconcerting fear and aloof glee whenever the moods start to swing. For most of the duration, Madson is solo, but a couple of minor characters, fabricated by his addiction, freakishly gloom over him. Viktor Karam, as the Bunny Man, and Valerio Cassa, as the Monster, positions themselves as enduring internal calamities that plague the Madson’s character.
“Red Krokodil” is laced with themes and symbolism, especially in a religious sense with the resurrection of Jesus Christ that parallels the trials and tribulations of the addict, mainly with going through the withdrawals. In order to save himself to be reborn, he must first sacrifice himself and Madson literally dons the crown of thorns and self-inflicts a stake through his feet. However, this self-crucification is all in his head, but when he awakes he’s able to ignore the heavily influential calls of the krokodil. Christapharo had kept the addicts apartment a dull, colorless prison, growing with filth and decay, but once the addict has saved himself, the room brightens, the outside sky has illuminated, and the near-death abuser has a little life left to be jovial, but to keep the grim themed tone against this man’s struggle to live through strife, Christapharo invokes false hope that ultimately becomes the addict’s concreted freedom from it all. The addict’s inner monologue goes through the steps how recovery, rekindling good memories from the past and wanting to not feel himself as it’s painful to feel your own skin be on fire from the corrosive drug, but rather be a personification of the wind, sun, water, or the grass, an element of the film that touches upon how humans mistreat the Earth much like they mistreat their bodies.
Unearthed Films and MVDVisual present “Red Krokodil” on a director’s cut, high definition, 1080p Blu-ray. Sporting a macabre, yet gorgeously illustrated cover, the release also has the same attributes in the image quality presented in a widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Like most film distributed by Unearthed Films, the grime and the disgusting reign as supreme and “Red Krokodil” has ample muck with bleeding orifices and an unappetizing uncleanliness about it, but the picture quality is clean and detailed with very little electrical interference. Color palettes, when the addict dreams to escape to nature, is a potent reminder that “Red Krokodil” isn’t just transmitting two-toned, gray and black, scale and displays exquisite landscapes. Even the computer generated Chernobyl like waste land of a city going up in an atomic fashion is well done with only a slightly glossy feel. The Dolby Digital 2.0 track broods with the ideal amount of LFE from composer Alexander Cimini that’s not acutely jarring, but still manages to showcase the detriment. Bonus material includes an alternate musical ending, deleted scenes, photo gallery, the CGI test of the nuclear explosion, teaser trailer, two theatrical trailers, and Unearthed Films tailer reels. “Red Krokodil” is a total out of body experience. Overwhelmingly brutal with muscular and mental breakdown, director Domiziano Christapharo’s indie picture of ill-effects of drug abuse has done what “Requiem for a Dream” has done for the mainstream with the matter-of-fact implication that manufactured street drugs are the purest evil that we could voluntarily do to sabotage ourselves.