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Butterfly Effect: Revelations (2009)

Butterfly Effect: RevelationsReviewed by Tristan Sinns

Starring Chris Carmack, Rachel Miner, Daniel Spink, Catherine Towne

Directed by Seth Grossman

Distributed by After Dark Films and Lionsgate Home Entertainment


Sam Reed (Carmack) is having a hell of a time handling the foibles of time manipulation. Along with a handful of other individuals (highlighted in the previous Butterfly Effect films), Sam has the most interesting ability to travel back to himself at an earlier time, and change his actions for those given moments. His abilities first manifest as a teenager soon after a fire destroys his home and kills his younger sister. Using his time bending power, he goes back in time to save her; only this time, his parents die as a result and, in an additional twist, his girlfriend is soon after cruelly murdered.

Chalk it up to a lesson learned. Sam goes on with life, only using his ability with cases that completely do not involve his own time line. He works part-time for the city police as a psychic, of sorts, and sneak peeks through time to help solve various unsolved murders. Eventually pining for his old murdered love gets the better of him and, against the advice of his sister (Miner), he shoots back in time to try to get a look at the killer. He fails, of course, ending up getting a second girl killed and then completely sabotaging his own “modern day” life to boot, coming back to find himself destitute, with his life in shambles.

Butterfly Effect: RevelationsThus the core of the film; many subsequent attempts to go back in time follow, and they always make the situation worse. Eventually, there are enough dead people that Sam is forced to realize he has actually created some sort of serial killer. Worse, the police suspect him. The film then boils down to iterative attempts to fix everything, only to make it worse each time, until the third act deus ex machina comes strolling in to make everything quite lovely again (as well as lays the groundwork for a potential sequel).

This is an old contrivance, and is the primary downfall of Butterfly Effect: Revelations. I hate to say it, but even the Simpson’s did it back in Treehouse of Horror V back in 1994, and even then it was, of course, a parody of the well known plot device. The film does try to add something new with its bizarre third act twist when the killer is finally revealed, but the twist itself is so absurd that it’s more likely to induce giggles than it is to impress.

Adding some awkwardness are moments of questionable comic relief that are forced and silly. In one scene, Sam hooks up with a hottie bartender (played by Miss Horrorfest 2007 Melissa Jones, aka Mistress Malice) for some spontaneous sex. This scene plays out in a montage, complete with goofy music, as Sam diddles the girl in half a dozen various positions. At some unfortunate moment, he looks over her shoulder to see the picture of his dead ex-girlfriend (dead now for many years) poking out of his wallet, and suddenly says, “I’m sorry, I just can’t do this.” Dude! You just played around the world on all the furniture of the house! It’s a little late for a last minute balking. Just turn the picture upside down, wrap it up, and go home.

Butterfly Effect: RevelationsSimilarly there is another awkward moment as Sam travels through time to try to spot the killer red-handed, only to accidently play voyeur on a couple engaging in the ever popular simulated rape fantasy. As he peeks through the closet blinds, the male fails to perform, complaining that it just feels too awkward to hear his girl cry for help. She responds something about how the fantasy should be a lot of fun, as she read about it in Cosmo. Cosmo? I’m sorry? Since when did that magazine start promoting rape fantasies of all things? Are furries and foot fetishes ever covered as well? Not that I’m interested. It’s all just a little weak, completely gratuitous, and did nothing, at all, to move the film forward.

Butterfly Effect: Revelations is far from a horrible film, though it doesn’t really succeed in being very special, either. It’s shot well, reasonably acted, and manages to keep some suspense going to the point that the film flows well enough; but it relies too much on old time manipulation shenanigans that we’ve all seen and all know, not to mention its fumbling attempts at humor. Its third act twist and reveal only makes the well trod time tricks more tiresome in contrast, and it arrives only to quickly paint up a somewhat happy ending to close the credits upon.

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2 1/2 out of 5

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Tristan Sinns