30th Oct2020

Frightfest 2020: ‘Butchers’ Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Simon Phillips, Michael Swatton, Julie Mainville, Anne-Carolyne Binette, James Hicks, Nick Allan, Blake Canning, Samantha De Benedet, Jonathan Largy, Frederik Storm | Written by Adrian Langley, Daniel Weissenberger | Directed by Adrian Langley

I remember seeing Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the middle of the 90s, almost two decades after it was released, and being blown away by it. It was dirty, gritty, harsh, violent, sadistic and raw. It was one of my first true forays into horror, and it stuck with me. It remains one of my favourite examples of the genre to this day. Since then there have been many films released that have attempted to replicate the tone of Hooper’s demented masterpiece. There have been homages, there have been rip-offs and there have been a whole range of sequels, prequels and remakes. Wrong Turn, Inbred, Slaughterhouse and so-on, and so-forth. Butchers, then, is an example of this sort of film, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad film.

There are psychotic filthy farm folk, there are victims hanging from ropes and chains, there’s blood and guts and gore. It is jam-packed with tropes and cliches and everything you’ve come to expect from this subgenre of horror, but… here’s the thing, I enjoyed it.

A bunch of pretty humans take a road-trip (of course they do) and head out into the country (where else?). Wait for it… their car breaks down, and whilst looking for help they, you guessed it, run into some sadistic motherf*ckers out for blood. It’s a copy-and-paste of so many films that have come before, and in that sense, Butchers is kind of just there. However, I enjoyed the throwback feel and perhaps I was in the mood for some cliches, because while I knew exactly how this was going to play out, I still didn’t hate seeing it happen.

The villains are the typical backwoods creeps. The protagonists are unlikable young people who are hard to relate to, but that’s part of the fun. We kind of want to see these morons with the crappy car and bad ideas go through some shit. And we do see them go through some sh*t. A lot of sh*t. Now, there isn’t that much of a plot here, and this truly is a rehash of so many other titles (many of them better than this film is) yet I found a charm to it, and thought the practical effects and overall look of the movie were cool. It has some intense moments, some terribly violent ones, and while I knew what was going to happen within a few moments after hitting “play”, I thought it was pretty fun.

Butchers will certainly divide opinions with a hatchet. Some will, rightfully, ignore the film and pop it in a pile of “Texas Chainsaw rip-offs” in the back of their heads. Some will watch the film and be annoyed or disappointed by its lack of originality or emaciated plot. Some, though, will enjoy Butchers for what it is. It’s a grungy violent axe to the head in the guise of another homage to all those demented backwoods killer flicks that came before. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it’s enjoyable, and I’m not mad. I’m entertained. Still… maybe some fresh ideas next time would be even nicer.

**½  2.5/5

Butchers screened on Friday October 23rd as part of this mnths Frightfest Digital Edition.


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