Friends, that’s a direct quote from Mrs. TFG not ten minutes into director Edward Gorsuch’s 2006 straight-to-video slasher offering, The Butcher, a film as relentlessly uninspired as its title would suggest. I’m all for retreading the same ground over and over again, and I’m all for doing poorly what other films have done well (depending on my mood, of course, and how that “poorly” is executed), but when you combine by-the-numbers, point-and-shoot direction with a by-the-numbers plot and acting that’s of the “bad” rather than, say, “memorably bad,” or “hopelessly bad” variety, then what you end up with is, well — what you end up with is The Butcher. As Morrissey once said, stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before —
Six spoiled collegiate creeps, led by an uber-obnoxious frat boy, are going on a cross-country road trip (in this case to Las Vegas, not that it really matters since of course they won’t be getting there) when said frat asshole decides to take a “short cut he knows about,” ends up hitting a pedestrian and soon the group of “friends” finds the accident bringing out the worst in each other (not that any of these folks really have what you’d call a “good side”) as they must both quickly decide whether or not to actually help the woman they hit, and what to do about getting their SUV (of course) fixed out in the middle of nowhere ( the same middle of nowhere with no cell phone service we’re finding time and again in these flicks). Needless to say, their search for help/their victim (who’s fled into the woods) leads them to find an old run-down shack that turns out to be the residence of an insane, and quite likely inbred, clan of country bumpkins who don’t take too kindly to strangers coming onto their land because, you know, rural folks in the movies pretty much never do.
Short cut to a series of gruesome, competently-but-not- memorably-executed kill scenes, and soon (but, as my wife would agree, not soon enough) we’re down to our “final girl,” who survives by having slightly more common sense than the rest of the bunch and therefore being marginally (extremely marginally, truth be told) sympathetic to the audience. If you’re still awake by this point (and for some reason I was), there’s nothing much left in store for the 80-plus-minutes of your life you’re never gonna get back that you’ve invested in this thing than an ending as run-of-the-mill as the rest of this revenge-of-the-psycho-backwoods-rednecks-upon-the-uppity-city-folks “thriller.”
Which is all sort of a shame, really, because the rural stalker subgenre is one I’ve always liked and probably always will (despite the absolute ubiquitousness — is that even a word? — of half-assed efforts like this one), and when it’s done right — as was the case with, say, the original versions of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes — it’s one of the more universally functional horror tropes out there. When it’s done poorly, though, it gets pretty annoying pretty fast. Needless to say, The Butcher is far from a shining example of just how effective this sort of slasher flick can be.
To be fair, there’s one genuine jump-out-of-your-seat surprise in this film, and I won’t give away it is just in case you decide to ignore my advice and actually see this thing, but it happens very early on, and from that point on all The Butcher does it go listlessly through the motions. Therefore, any early optimism you may have for this film based on this one sequence is quickly dashed. Oh well.
Let’s see, technical specs —the DVD release of The Butcher was handled by Lionsgate. It’s got a nice widescreen transfer and good directional effects on the 5.1 surround mix. I didn’t bother dealing with the extras, but I believe there’s a commentary and a making-of featurette of some sort, if memory serves me correctly. It was shot in southern California somewhere or other for around $750,000. None of the “stars” of this thoroughly soulless affair have gone on to much else of note, nor has director Gorsuch — for obvious, I should think, reasons.
Can’t they all just fucking get killed already, indeed.