Written and directed by Sam Fox, Sheila is a self-obsessed aerobics fanatic who accidentally ingests some toxic hair gel while doing her usual morning workout to Aerobisexy vol. 14, transporting her into the world of Aerobics Cult Leader John Flexi. Starring: Kate Hollowell, Caileigh Knapp, Willie Larson and Branden Wilbarger.
Some things are synonymous with certain eras and ridiculously revealing, brightly coloured exercise wear will be forever twinned with the 1980s and its abundance of exercise tapes and aerobics classes. If you’re not sure about that then a blast from the past with romantic flick Perfect starring Jamie Lee Curtis and John Travolta will clear it up. Adding on top of that the heinous beauty products full of all types of toxic nonsense, the funny thing is that it feels like Bad Acid could quite possibly have happened. Although this is not a film about reality but bending it, stepping into the realm of hallucination and freaky trips. Interestingly it doesn’t push that idea overly far, it exaggerates the qualities of self-obsession, vanity and sex-appeal into a strange universe but doesn’t cross over into the realm of dark or bizarre.
That comes with positives and negatives, it’s cleverly not trying too hard and holds onto the themes of an overall story rather than getting lost among the adventure. However, it also feels as though it was holding back because there’s serious potential for a bigger horror vein. You could easily see this story getting satisfyingly twisted and really warping that reality it built, pushing the consequences of unadulterated vanity. Instead it lands somewhere in the middle, it’s keeping one foot on the ground while the other experiments, adding only a touch of madness.
It also goes for a surprisingly clean visual, while it does capitalise on the classic over the top 80s colour scheme, the cinematography feels quite modern. It doesn’t quite bring the era into the aesthetic outside of the physical elements. Especially with it entering this altered realm, it adjusts slightly but misses out on a more intense grit or texture to grasp onto Sheila’s (Kate Hollowell) fear and confusion. However, Hollowell does do a great job of matching her body language and the persona she’s bringing to the setting, it feels very familiar of the period. The same goes for Branden Wilbarger, he taps into that aggressively eager attitude of exercise instructors, walking that line of motivating turning to threatening and disturbing.
Bad Acid brings the 1980s to life with its vibrant colours and high energy but feels as though it’s holding back. It’s a fantastic idea because there’s something so close to psychotic about that era of fitness obsession topped with big hair and skimpy outfits but it only dips its toes into that intensity. The cast all do a great job of embodying the style and attitudes of the era then melding them into something new and strange as the story develops. It’s very much like a music video in its style, you could see this being topped with a pop-punk-esque tune, but it’s just missing out on the huge potential for darkness and horror that linger throughout.