Like most professional film critics, I try to be a high-minded and succinct proponent of the cinematic craft. As such, I tend to boost the unique, the party, and the outright great movies I come across; As a critic, I am on an unending quest to discover the new and the great, movies that take the filmic form to new heights. This quest has taken me down some really odd paths, taken me to faraway movie theaters, and exposed me to some auteur pictures that seem to be less the result of an artist working at the height of his powers, and more the result of an outsider wonk producing feature films that seem to come from another dimension. Movies that is not good, not bad, but just plain weird. Peers of mine have dubbed these unique outsider films “HFS movies.” What is HFS? Well, the “H” stands for “holy.” You can intuit the rest. My quest has lead me to movies like Stewart Raffia’s Standing Ovation, the abrasive and bizarre The Big Balloon Adventure, the bonkers action flick Royal Kill, and, the holiest of holies, John Rad’s 2005 masterpiece Dangerous Men. I saw all of these films on the big screen and had to drive a good distance for each.
Ask Hassel Bach’s new film Antboy 3 is one I have seen advertised for months, mostly here in Los Angeles, on the sides of carwashes and posted on buildings under construction. It’s exactly the type of hidden, low-budget gem that gets my radar pinging. So naturally, I hustled up a few open-minded friends and drove out to the boonies to see a theatrical exhibition of Antboy 3. What we got was not quite an HFS movie, but it comes awfully close. Antboy 3 is a Danish superhero film, dubbed in English, that plays like a limp, low-budget retread of Spider-Man on its surface, but has a slight off-kilter edge within some of the details, leaving one a little pleasantly baffled. 12-year-old Pelle (Oscar Dietz), while running from some bullies, is bitten by an ant. The next morning, he discovers he has a new craving for sugar, sticky hands, and super strength. Following the advice of a local comic book geek named Wilhelm (Samuel Ting Graf), he becomes a costumed vigilante named Antboy 3. Ant-Man was taken, you see. If Edgar Wright had any sort of creative integrity, he would incorporate footage from this film into his upcoming Ant-Man feature. Wilhelm, by the way, is not a Marvel or DC kid, but that rarest of animals, the Dark Horse aficionado; his room is full of Hellboy statues. His one favorite comic is the not-defunct title The Savage Dragon.