23rd Mar2014

‘Butcher Boys’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Ali Faulkner, Johnny Walter, Derek Lee Nixon, Tory Tompkins, Gregory Kelly, Phillip Wolf, Jon Clinkenbeard, Katie Patterson | Written by Kim Henkel | Directed by Duane Graves, Justin Meeks

Butcher-Boys-cast

Kim Henkel, writer of the classic horror The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and writer/director of its third sequel, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (although the less said about that the better), returns to the horror genre with Butcher Boys, his first feature in almost twenty years.

In 1729 Jonathan Swift published A Modest Proposal, a satirical tome in which he suggested Ireland offer up their children as food, using cannibalism as a metaphor for the exploitation of the poor by the rich. Well jump to 2014 and Butcher Boys takes this metaphorical concept and turns it into filmic terror as a birthday celebration at an upscale restaurant sets in motion events that bring a group of friends face to face with the macabre world of cannibals – the Butcher Boys – predators who deal in human flesh, dead or alive…

What Butcher Boys also does is pay homage to Kim Henkel’s more famous work, referencing and pastiching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – this time setting its cannibalistic tale in dark urban streets rather than the backwoods of Texas, replacing the woods with dark alleys and abandoned shacks with empty, run-down shops; and much like the hicks of Tobe Hooper’s film and its sequels, the locals in this urban sprawl all turn a blind eye to the psychos on the streets. But that’s not the only similarities the two films (well actually franchise in the case of TCM), share.

Yes, Butcher Boys utilizes plot points and locales from not only the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre but its sequels as well. There’s a side-by-side car chase across a bridge which was apparently shot at the same location (Montopolis Bridge, Austin) that opened The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. Then there’s the uncontrollable monster that resides in the cannibals lair, the J.Swifts building (geddit?) and a redux of THAT memorable crazed dining scene from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Oh, and did I mention the crazy “bounty hunter” who Sissy, played with aplomb by Ali Faulkner, comes across in the cannibals lair who’s apparently looking for his lost daughter, ala Dennis Hopper in TCM 2?

The problem is none of the film is actually explained that well and it leaves a lot of unanswered questions come the final credits. We have cannibals who kill men and eat women, except for a small handful who they capture seemingly handover to their “guests” to use and abuse. They also run medical tests on final girl Sissy. Why? To impregnate her? To check is she’s good eating meat? We’re never told the reason until the film is almost over. Instead there’s a lot of crazy behaviour from the cannibal clan and a lot of running around and screaming for poor Sissy. And ultimately it’s actually never explained as to why the cannibals do what they do.

That doesn’t stop the film from being a gory thrill ride though and Butcher Boys certainly doesn’t scrimp on the gore. For those that enjoy the red stuff there’s breast eating, brain eating, throat tearing, chainsaws, stabbings, headshots and much more. Plus there’s the odd cameo from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre cast for the hardcore fans… And despite its lack of plot (multiple chase sequences don’t really constitute a story do they?) Butcher Boys is still a pretty decent homage to Henkel’s more superior work.

Butcher Boys is released on DVD on March 24th, courtesy of 101 Films.

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