March 26, 2018 The Butchering (Movie Review)
Almost every town has some type of dark past. Sometimes it is something as simple as being the hometown of an infamous person who has wreaked havoc. Other times it is not only the hometown but also the set for a crime so evil and unimaginable that it echoes for years. Originally premiering back in 2015 at Fright Night Film Fest, The Butchering offers a glimpse into what happens when evil comes home when it hits DVD domestically on Tuesday, March 27, 2018 thanks to Wild Eye Releasing.
Written and directed by Leo McGuigan, it is the end of the school year for the kids in Braxton. The high schoolers are having a graduation party at the hall. It is a typical party. Everyone is drinking, dancing, and just generally having a great time. The most eventful thing anyone expects to take place is maybe someone drinking too much and losing their stomach at the most inappropriate time. Tommy Miller (Oisín Cash in his debut) has a different idea. After slaughtering the occupants of his home, he sets his sights on the teenagers. Face covered in a mask and armed with an ax, Tommy Miller butchers every student except for Ryan (Shaun Blaney: Halo: Nightfall 2014, Farr 2015) and Cora (Stephanie Donaghue Farr). Police swarm quickly, but Tommy Miller is not found.
Ten years later and it is the anniversary of the massacre. The Tommy Miller killing spree has become somewhat of a legend. The kids are planning a party at the same hall that the events occurred. The anniversary is exciting, not dark like its origins. Cora is now a radio DJ. She has to field calls from unsympathetic callers who want to celebrate the day instead of mourning it. Her younger sister, Annabelle (Meabh McAuley: You and I 2014, Normality 2014), lives with her. Ryan is a police detective. He and his new partner, Will (Andrew Stanford: Jump 2012, Same Again 2014), are called to Cora’s house. Both she and her sister have been slaughtered. Soon whispers of Tommy Miller’s return swirl around town.
Julie (Jenna Bryne: Echoes of Anna 2015) is Ryan’s niece. She is also one of Annabelle’s classmates. Tommy Miller hits close to home again. All anyone is talking about at school is the party with passing mentions of the murder. The friend’s group are also concerned about their interpersonal relationships. Kaitlin, who is an avid blogger, questions her classmates and wonders if Tommy Miller has finally returned. Ryan is hunting down clues, but each one uncovers shocking secrets. As the kids get ready for the big 10 Year Tommy Miller Anniversary party, bodies continue to pile up. Is Tommy Miller really back? Can Ryan figure out what is going on before all the teenagers in Braxton are dead? In the end, who will survive?
The Butchering follows the classic Slasher formula. Deranged psychopath stalks and kills a slew of people while the hero tries to stop it all from happening. There are no surprises there. That said, the film does have a few twists. The script is clever in taking the viewer deeper into the living legend that is Tommy Miller. The issue lies mostly with the pacing of the entire film. It does drag a bit at times, which does cause some disinterest in the characters designated as prey. Looking for a lot of blood? This is not the film to see. High body count? Then absolutely. Some of the fight scenes have something to be desired.
Additionally, the acting is not high grade. At times it works, but at other times it does not. The actors come across as bored instead of people who are supposed to be scared of an ax-wielding psychopath. Diona Doherty’s (27, Memory Lane 2014, Penance: Aithri 2017) Kaitlin is the brightest spot in the entire cast. She, unlike several of her castmates, never fell out of her role and stayed fully committed. She made some of the slower parts of the film exciting to watch.
Creating a legend that creates fear in the hearts of the viewer is difficult. Not all of them will stick around and haunt the shadows. The Butchering attempts to create such a legend. While it has all the ingredients to do so, the film does fall slightly short. Although, if slower paced Slasher films are desired, this one fits the bill. It is for this reason that CrypticRock gives The Butchering 3 out of 5 stars.