A film that comes from the Troma production company will always be one bathed in a serious heft of unusuality. There’s no need for deep dives into context or nuances, Troma pictures are the true rebels of the cinematic universe, delighting in irreverence and sickening bad taste. The company’s founder, Lloyd Kaufman, has always been the loudest supporter of the shlock and bodily fluid-inspired nonsense that these films project, but he’s also always given credit where its due to the visions of his filmmakers, and something like Divide & Conquer is truly from the mind of creator and actress Mercedes the Muse.
There isn’t much narratively to Divide & Conquer, but my word will your senses be on overload with the consistent filth flung your way as blood, brains, ejaculate and urine flow as freely as each other throughout; this is truly a film for those who aren’t easily offended. Mercedes stars as Toxie, who along with gal pals Lilith (Irie Divine) and Athena (Knotty Peach), is on the road in a bid to escape the exploitive lifestyle they have unfortunately become accustomed to.
But it isn’t such an easy path to follow, especially when there’s a hoard of racist, white supremacists after them, and in order to confront the man behind all of this, they have to return to the very city they are planning to leave: Tromaville – how fitting. Putting it bluntly, Divide & Conquer is gross. Like, mind-numbingly, viscerally gross. But, at the same time, Mercedes is owning her boldness, delivering a film about women taking charge of their bodies and their narrative – we just may not appreciate the manner in which she expresses this.
Casual audiences are likely to not even make it through 10-or-so minutes of the film, but cinephiles aware of the Troma brand – a company that includes such titles in their vault as Cannibal! The Musical, the Toxic Avenger series, Killer Condom, and Rabid Grannies – are sure to be more susceptible to the filthy, stomach-churning, far-too-confrontational material that this film delights in. There’s a feminist message in there, but, in true Troma form, this is about shock value and does Divide & Conquer absolutely do so.
Divide & Conquer is screening as part of this year’s Film Maudit 2.0 Film Festival, running both virtually and in-person at the L.A. Performance Space and Gallery Highways between January 12th – 23rd, 2022.