Butcher, The (2008) - Dread Central
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Butcher, The (2008)

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The Butcher reviewReviewed by Paul McCannibal

Starring Kim Sung-il, You Dong-hun

Directed by Kim Jin-won


I don’t get the faux snuff genre, I really don’t, and that is exactly what The Butcher is. There’s no story. There’s no character introduction or development. It’s not shot on any kind of medium you could class as aesthetically well constructed. The framework is actors operating their own cameras, or directed loosely to do so. All on crappy looking video. Nothing nice to look at, definitely nothing interesting to look at.

This movie features a trio of sadist snuff moviemakers in an abandoned slaughterhouse. One wears a pig’s head. They have four victims, each of whom wears an improvised helmet constructed of a bowl, some duct tape, and a cheap video camera attached to the top. These auto-camera contraptions look really stupid.

The sadist/snuffers have cheap video cameras too, giving the presentation the only “dynamic” potential in the entire film, which is the ability to cut between the perspective of the victim and whatever the sadist/snuffmasters decide to shoot. The edit of the footage is seemingly random, the shots are long, shaky, and boring throughout. For that matter, it’s all boring and extremely uncreative. You do get to see people murdered and mutilated, or hear them murdered and mutilated off-screen. What The Butcher is trying to do, like the August Underground series, is show the audience an imitation of what a potential real captive/murder/snuff video might look like. Why? Why do that?

Having seen this at a festival, a big looming question arises right away. People who go to movies at festivals are often interested in seeing and/or meeting the directors who made the films. Why would you want to be the person who made a video like The Butcher? What pleasure could one take from having a stranger approaching them after the screening and saying “That was really realistic and I loved it!” If I thought that someone actually found a way in their mind to identify with what was being shown in a video like this, it’d creep me out. But whatever. Who knows what’s going on in this faux snuff scene. Again, I just have to say that I flat out don’t get it. To each their own.

A long time ago, at the advent of the internet, I remember someone saying that looking at the real death clips available out there is akin to sticking your finger into a light socket for entertainment. Having seen some terrible things on the ‘net myself, I concur. Regardless, this type of thing that The Butcher is trying to do has been done “successfully” before with the Guinea Pig series or the August Underground films. I stress “successfully”.

The Butcher reviewFaux snuff, granted, isn’t exactly the same as sticking your finger in a light socket for entertainment, because it isn’t real. It’s more like pulling the fuse out and sticking your finger into an inert light socket and pretending to be shocked, and then trying very hard and very vocally to convince people that your finger is burned, when it isn’t. But what fun is that? Isn’t that just pretending to be stupid? This is why I think these faux snuff films are worthless creations.

Now, before you start railing against my squareness and calling me a softly pro-censorship guy, I’m not fully against the idea of death presented on film in freakishly direct ways. Back in the late 80’s, one of my favourite directors, English auteur Alan Clarke, made a short film called “Elephant” (American poseur Gus Van Sant appropriated the title and the concept with his boring and laughably inferior Colombine-themed version). Alan Clarke’s original 1989 “Elephant” film featured 20-odd minutes of people stalking and shooting one another in Northern Ireland. Clarke’s point was to make a statement against violence by showing the ugliness and equal proliferation of it regardless of sectarian allegiance.

I remember reading an interview about the film, and Clarke apparently considering stopping the filming of “Elephant” mid-way through because he was starting to wonder if it was a good idea to show nothing but the concentrated violence without character context, due to how that kind of thing might weigh on his conscience, or the conscience of those who saw it. He continued though, and left behind a harsh and unique film that asks the viewer very directly how this kind of violent, daily reality sits with them.

Faux-snuff like The Butcher? Or, for that matter, August Underground? No way. These people didn’t ever sit around and wonder whether they’d gone too far; they only wondered if they’d gone far enough in terms of making a name for themselves, or if they could go further in doing so. This stuff writes sequels as a part of its process potential. If people out there “like” it enough, they’ll do another one under the same title as long as people want it. Alan Clarke, bless him, would never do an “Elephant 2” Because there was a point in his exploration of violence, and he would only purposely do it once to make his point, because he had a point. I should add, I’m talking now about a filmmaker at a level of filmic style and creativity that I almost feel is being insulted by my bringing his name up in this particular context. But hopefully my point is clear.

To finish, I love the horror genre, but this faux snuff stuff doesn’t qualify on any level as something worthy as an entry in the genre as I see it, at least on a technical and artistic level. This kind of shit needs to be chased out of town. Torture and mutilation simulations are not what the genre (or the world) needs. Especially not right now. Torture is not something to be made light of or trivialized by turning depictions of it into entertainment without explaining why.

I’ll keep a copy of this review in case I ever see another faux-snuff video. I’ll just copy and paste this review and change the respective titles because my perspective on it isn’t going to change. Here’s my take: The Butcher is the bottom of the barrel folks: avoid at all costs unless you’re into faux-snuff videos.

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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review

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Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo

Directed by Colin Bemis


Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.

The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.

As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.

Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.

In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.

On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.

In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.

Until then, check out the film’s trailer HERE, and follow the movie on Facebook.

  • Strawberry Flavored Plastic
3.5

Summary

Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.

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Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)

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We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.

In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!

If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View

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Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly

Directed by Marcel Sarmiento


Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as

17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?

What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.

  • Film
2.0

Summary

Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?

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