Black Butterfly (2017)

Black ButterflyStarring Antonio Banderas, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Piper Perabo

Directed by Brian Goodman


Paul (Antonio Banderas) continues the horror tradition/trope of a blocked, alcoholic writer going to a remote cabin in the woods to recapture his mojo, while a shifty drifter named Jack (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) does his bit in providing the cypher of the seemingly random, mysterious stranger. There’s also a pretty lady, Laura (Piper Parabo), who does little other than the damsel-in-distress routine. Oh, and of course there’s the added tension of a series of unsolved murders in the area.

There’s certainly not much in the way of originality when it comes to Black Butterfly, but I don’t mind that as long as the cast and filmmakers bring their A-game and add some stylistic pizzazz.

When we first meet Paul, he’s holed up in his retreat with a bottle of booze and a typewriter (yes, a typewriter), writing one phrase over and over again: “I am stuck.” After a while, he decides he needs a change of scenery, so he heads to his local watering hole. On the way into town, he’s involved in a roadway altercation with some hooligans. Turns out, they’re all headed to the same place. That’s where Paul meets Jack, who gives off some super-sinister vibes. So what does Paul do? He invites the strange stranger to come and live with him! Well, Jack is a handyman, so it makes sense. (OK, not really. But at this point in the film, I was still trying to get on board.) As soon as Jack finds out Paul is a screenwriter, and that he’s having some trouble getting his story flowing, Jack decides to help…. by taking Paul and Laura hostage. “Why I didn’t toss you out on day one is baffling to me!” Paul yells at him. Yup. I had been wondering that exact thing for the entire runtime.

While Black Butterfly is an adaptation of the acclaimed French thriller, “Papillon Noir”, whatever was compelling on the page certainly does not work on the screen. Directed by Brian Goodman (who’s better-known as an actor) and written by Marc Frydman and Justin Stanley (whose collective credits include little of note) in humdrum paint-by-numbers fashion, there is little-to-nothing to keep the viewer interested. If you’re making a silly thriller, that’s OK… just have some fun with it. But alas, Black Butterfly takes itself as seriously as a Twitter troll. I’m willing to forgive at least a little bit, as long as there is something cool for me to look at or hear. Sadly, the cinematography and score is as dull as the rest of this snoozefest. There is a twist at the end – similar to tons of others we’ve all seen many, many times – and hey, it looks like there might be a saving grace after all. But then, there’s another twist. Sigh.

The only reason Black Butterfly gets any stars at all is because I’m a fan of both Banderas and Rhys Meyers (though admittedly, both turn in “paycheck performances” here), and there’s an acting cameo from slasher/exploitation legend, Abel Ferrara. He’s always worth the price of admission.

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Staci Layne Wilson

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