THE ACID HOUSE presents three stories from Irvine Welsh's book of the same name -- with a rougher, meaner tone and style than the film adaptation of his novel Trainspotting. Violence, depravity, and not a stitch of redemption inform this nasty little triptych, but as Karen Finley once bellowed, "THESE ARE MEAN TIMES!"

In that respect, The Acid House is a sadistic laugh-a-minute.

Welsh wrote the screenplay, while former still photographer and BBC documentarian Paul McGuigan directed. The shorts work well together, each carrying themes of rampant substance abuse, emotional and physical battery, and irresponsible love affairs in gritty, working-class settings in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Though thematically linked, the second short, "A Soft Touch," stands alone in being realistic drama, while the first and third films work into surrealistic plots that are hilarious and visually well-represented. In "The Granton Star Cause," a surly, pint-pounding God turns a man into a fly, and the fly itself turns in a superb, closely-shot performance. And if you were horrified by the baby scene in Trainspotting, you will laugh in disbelief at the baby in the final story, "The Acid House" -- a strange tale in which said baby and an LSD enthusiast (Ewen Bremner, the speed freak from Trainspotting) exchange personalities. (Imagine stuttering Spud, breast-feeding.)

Alarming, yes. Brilliant? Sort of. Welsh's dark vision carries well, as does his nihilistic humor, but it can be overwhelming to sit through gratuitous violence and social disregard when it's presented as entertainment. The film intimates a psychological depth, but never digs deeply enough to transcend being a smart cheap thrill. "A Soft Touch" comes closest, examining a man who marries a spiteful, sexually promiscuous sometimes-prostitute when she becomes pregnant; he becomes her caretaker as she has an affair with their neighbor. It's a forthright look at the emotional squalor a man chooses for himself.

Ultimately, I'm not upset that The Acid House is another contribution to my anti-social loathing of all people and things. You get what you pay for, you silly cunt.

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