Movie Review - The Butchers
The Butchers certainly lives up to its title. Part Grind-House, part occult thriller, Director Steven Judd’s gory Battle Royale is a bloody fight for supremacy with eleven archetypical horror film victims added for taste. The story follows a group of passengers whom become stranded in an abandoned town due to an unknown mechanical failure on their charter bus. They walk to Death Factory, a serial killer museum, and unintentionally wander into a Highlander-type competition in which the world’s six most notorious serial killers are to be resurrected and killer for their power.
Like many horror films, it’s easy to discern which characters will survive. In the case of The Butchers, the less-developed characters basically move through expository scenes with a red X painted on their backs. The characters are basically Super-Tropes, and are busting at the seams with stereotypical goodness. Still, despite genre favorites like slutty, hetero-flexible women, the bible-thumping preacher, muscle head, and the “Oh no, they can’t die! They’re so nice!” type characters, each personality meshes well with the tone of the film and adds humor. The majority of that humor comes from Auntie May, an obese black woman that’s one “oh lord!” from spiraling dangerously into Medea territory. I found her to be the best and worst part of this film. Still, this stereotype and others can be forgiven. A ridiculous premise deserves ridiculous characters… you know, for continuity.
The serial killers, played by a wide arrange of indie film actors are the true stars of the film. Despite creative liberties being taken with the physical appearance of the psychopaths, each one has a very distinct personality. The killers also tend possess otherworldly strength and be well-versed in formal fighting techniques. I attributed this to the idea that if you’re going to summon demonic psychopaths from the depths of hell, why shouldn’t they arrive with advanced belts in karate and judo? In many ways, The Butchers is a 120-minute long game of “What If?” as serial killers are pitted against each other. Ridiculous yes, but there was something very satisfying about Dahmer being bullied by Gein over a captured victim.
There’s a few issues with this film. The first being that the dialogue is static at times. In general, people rarely announce how they feel or key plot points aloud. But this film is a pseudo-grindhouse, and those films aren’t usually known for their witty and engaging dialogue. Pacing also seems to be an issue, the majority of the action takes place in the last twenty minutes of the film. To give a metaphor here, watching The Butchers was like walking up a steep hill and then tumbling down the other side. Perhaps the amount of victims could have been chopped in half (pun intended) which would have given screen time to develop the more engaging characters. Frankly, I haven’t had to keep track of so many victims since Jeepers Creepers 2.
The Butchers is a perfect B-movie with a C-average. Overall I liked this film for what it was; I got some good laughs, and it kept my butt in the chair. I also really enjoyed Semi Anthony and am looking forward to seeing him in horror again. I think you’ll like it, provided you can just go with it.
- Tiffany McKeever