The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Butcher Boys

Sometimes after watching a movie, you think, What on earth did I just see? That's not always a bad thing; sometimes the most inexplicable movies can also be the most interesting. But other times, it is a bad thing. I had this exact thought after seeing Butcher Boys. The film was written and produced by Kim Henkel, who co-wrote the 1974 horror classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (a film I dearly love). This new project is pretty clearly an attempt to capture a similar vibe, even going so far as to include a demented “family” with a large, mute killer not unlike Leatherface.

Following a quote from Jonathan Swift's “A Modest Proposal” that tips off where the story is headed, we meet four nondescript teenagers out for a night of fun. While they are racing another car, a dog wanders into the street and is run over. The group of men to whom the dog belonged start pursuing the kids. The first 40 minutes are essentially these young people wandering the streets in bad parts of San Antonio, Texas, trying to avoid guys who look like evil Abercrombie & Fitch models. Then we begin focusing on Sissy (Ali Faulker), who, in trying to escape, ends up right in their lair. It is here that she makes a shocking discovery, having something to do with that Swift quote.

Butcher Boys is essentially two movies in one, neither particularly good. The first half plays on urban paranoia, specifically the idea of getting lost in dark city streets while being pursued by someone with malicious intent. Very early scenes do have a raw creepiness, but this section of the film goes on and on. Watching the characters repeatedly run through alleys and behind buildings becomes tedious after a while. The second half is more of a Lost Boys-meets-Texas Chainsaw Massacre mash-up, as the caddish villains and their family of eccentric, bloodthirsty psychopaths torment Sissy. Butcher Boys abruptly starts trying to be funny here, too. At one point, there's a naked old man who slathers himself in Crisco; later, the mute giant gets his hands on a rocket launcher. Nothing fits together very well, and the movie takes so long to clue you in as to what's really going on that you're almost certain to not care. There's also something really uncomfortable about the way the movie delights in putting Sissy (and another female character) through torture porn-y abuse.

In fairness, the final fifteen minutes become so ridiculously over-the-top that Butcher Boys almost begins approaching something resembling fun. All hell breaks loose and, while it remains nonsensical, it's at least not boring. Then again, the movie's essentially over at this point. Butcher Boys might have made a terrific half-hour short film. Stretched out to 85 minutes, though, it's just a sloppy combination of borrowed ideas, phony literary aspirations, and uncomfortable misogyny.

( out of four)

Butcher Boys is rated R for strong violence, language, some sexual content and nudity. The running time is 1 hour and 26 minutes.

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