Director: Charles Stewart Jr., Sheila Brothers, Shaun O'Rourke
Cast: Cory Broadwater, Brandon Luck, Melissa Lukon, Jamie Moffet, D.J. Naylor
A group of high school friends decide to celebrate their upcoming graduation by boating to a remote island for a weekend of camping out and partying. Little do they know that a psychopath killer nicknamed "The Butcher" has just escaped from prison and has landed on the same island to hideout and is none too happy when he discovers he has some unwanted guests.
Butchered is a film that could fit perfectly in the plethora of post Halloween and Friday the 13th slasher films that were driven more by the cliched set up of a madman stalking unsuspecting teens and disposing of them with various weapons than by creating any actual distinctive plot. Butchered is completely by the numbers in its execution and everything unfolds how any slasher fan would expect it to. Curiously, there is some attempt at characterization and inner conflict between the main character and the expectations that his family has for him, but it ends up being awkward and out of place in the context of the rest of the film. Besides this particular character, all the others are complete stereotypical slasher film characters who serve no purpose but to be prey for the killer. It is obvious that the film had a shoe-string budget and lighting was definitely an issue, as illustrated by the fact that most of the kills take place in broad daylight and an abrupt transition mid-scene from night time to daylight, suspending any real chance at building an suspense. Add to this that the kills are all pretty tame and mostly done off screen, and you have a horror film that squanders an actually creepy and ideal setting and lessens the impact of an actually very creepy killer. The ending feels tacked on for the sake of padding the running time and was quite unnecessary and implausible, but (big surprise) opens the fate for a sequel of the filmmakers are so obliged.
All is not a lost cause for Butchered, however. Despite the low budget, the film actually looks decent and is competently directed. There are even some highly stylized and effective scenes of the killer's profile lurking in the background. As mentioned, the setting of an isolated island is quite effective, even if the filmmakers never takes full advantage of the opportunity this location provides. The film actually moves along at a brisk pace, clocking in at a meager seventy-one minutes. This means there is very few "filler" scenes (besides the characterization attempt already mentioned) and the the action comes quickly. The killer himself is quite intimidating and chilling and sort of reminded me of the killer in the recent slasher film Carver, only much less brutal. Overall, Butchered is not a bad film, it is just something we have seen a thousand and one times before. It is a film to watch, enjoy for what it is, and instantly forget about as soon as it pops out of the DVD player.
Fright Meter Grade:
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