Mad God is a grotesque, profane, brutal hallucinatory odyssey through a nightmarish hellscape. It is also, quite frankly, a work of art.
The brainchild of special effects and creature design luminary Phil Tippett, Mad God is the culmination of a long and storied career as well as the result of a decades long labor of love. Honestly, it’s hard to describe in any way that does it justice—or just devolve into an excessively effusive, expletive-laden histrionics. It deserves more than that. It deserves better. But how to even find the appropriate language, how to find the words to sufficiently describe the experience that is Mad God? Because more than anything, beyond its narrative, its aesthetics, and the colossus of work that went into its creation, Mad God is deeply experiential. I don’t think any two viewers could ever walk away from witnessing it—and make no mistake, you do not simply watch it, you witness it—with the same impression. No two viewers could ever process it the same, digest it the same. To be perfectly frank I’m quite sure there are more than a few people who wouldn’t even want to make their way through the entirety of its runtime. It’s…singular, in its delivery of the unapologetically grotesque. But for those brave enough to endure, it’s almost impossible to look away from.
Through the brisk 83 minutes of its total runtime, I couldn’t drag my eyes away from the screen. I was, quite literally, transfixed, and for so many reasons. The aforementioned visuals themselves are a large part of that. The screen at all times is crammed with stimuli, with imagery to pore over, with hellish landscapes to digest. There’s so much minutiae involved in every moment I’m already planning a second viewing just so I can spend more time poring over everything on display without having to worry about ingesting the movie itself. The sound design, also, is incredible and goes a long way towards elevating the experience and creating a disturbing ambience—a resonance, almost. Taken as a whole work, Mad God is something truly rare and I can confidently state that I found myself profoundly affected by it. Which is exceptional, as someone who spends an absurd amount of their time consuming movies and, at best, expecting only to be entertained. I was so much more than entertained by Mad God. A day later and I genuinely can’t stop thinking about it. The aesthetics haunt me, the imagery flashes through my mind. The world that Tippett created is something simultaneously and paradoxically horrific and rapturous.
One couldn’t be blamed for getting to the end and asking what the hell it was all about. I did. But I don’t feel as if it necessarily has to actually be about anything except the experience itself. The experience and what it evokes, what it pulls from you, what it makes you feel; how it affects you, and the state you find yourself in afterwards. Mad God plays with so many themes. Death, creation, madness, horror, pain, futility. Yet in the end it isn’t truly about any of those things. It is, always and again, about the experience. And maybe we sometimes need to be reminded of that. Of art, and media, and the fundamental experience of consuming it. It’s a lot. It’s strange. And as far as Mad God is concerned, it’s certainly not for everyone. But as far as I’m concerned, it’s a work of art and worth more than just five or five hundred stars. So if you’re interested in something new, and different, and you’re willing to take the plunge, definitely sit yourself down in front of Mad God.
You can watch Mad God on Amazon Prime.