Most Bonkers Movie Drug: Equisapien fusing catalyst in Sorry to Bother You
It's been quite a year for movie drugs, none of which we'd ever like a hit of, thanks. Most memorably: There's Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy, where a cult leader sets his sights on Mandy (Andrea Riseborough) and sends out goons to kidnap and drug her, first with a droplet of a purposefully bad batch of LSD straight into her eye, and finished off with the sting of a nasty-looking tarantula wasp marinating in a gooey green jar of various toxic chemicals. Then there's Peter in Ari Aster's Hereditary, who unknowingly takes the most deadly bong rip of all time at a party before his younger sister Charlie (Milly Shapiro) goes into anaphylactic shock from accidentally eating nuts hidden in a chocolate cake. And who could forget Bradley Cooper's Jackson Maine, in the midst of his descent, smashing unidentified pills for snorting in A Star Is Born, a scene that apparently came to the first-time director in a dream? There's all of this, and plenty more, in the disturbing landscape of drug use in film during the most horrific opioid crisis the United States has experienced, on top of the endless drug war that unjustly imprisons people of color for minor criminal offenses. Not to be a bummer, since we're supposed to be having a good time here, but it's true!
Boots Riley's Sorry To Bother You, a scathing satire about the evils of capitalism, mostly, deeply understands the loaded oppositional forces at play, and jockeys (HORSE PUN ALERT) cynicism and absurdity into the perfectly horrific movie drug: an equisapien fusing catalyst masquerading as cocaine. First, at the beginning of a swank corporate party in the third act of the film, Armie Hammer's Worryfree CEO Steve Lift snorts the most comically large line of (presumably) cocaine. Later in his office, Steve offers Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) a similar looking substance spiraling on a salad plate with the painted bust of a horse called Mr. Bobo, which Cassius snorts before watching a promotional video about Worryfree's latest innovation for making its workforce "more efficient and profitable": genetically modifying humans into horse people called equisapiens by snorting a suspicious white substance known as the fusing catalyst. Steve propositions Cassius to become one on a five-year contract to be Worryfree's inside horse-man, "the equisapien Martin Luther King," handing him a sheet of paper with "I'M OFFERING YOU $100,000,000 :)" written on it. At the end of the term, they'll administer a genetic reversal. Cassius, rightfully, freaks out and leaves. But it's already too late -- the drugs he took were, in fact, the fusing catalyst, and in the final frame, we see his early transformation into an equisapien. It's a snake move, truly evil, which contains multitudes. For Steve Lift, drugs are a funtime, no-stakes privilege; for everyone else, but mostly the poor and vulnerable, they're literally a form of slavery.
Runners-up: LSD/wasp sting combo in Mandy, the pill-crushing boot in A Star Is Born, Peter's weed in Hereditary