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BUTCHERS (2020)

Directed by Adrian Langley
Written by Adrian Langley, Daniel Weissenberger
Starring Simon Phillips, Michael Swatton, Julie Mainville, Anne-Carolyne Binette, James Hicks, Nick Allan, Blake Canning, Samantha De Benedet, Jonathan Largy, Frederik Storm, Jason Sedlar

A group of kids have a breakdown in the middle of Nowhere, USA and run afoul of a family of evil hillbillies who may or may not be cannibals. It’s not a totally original synopsis, but sometimes good things come in simple packages.

While it lacks the flash and bang of a TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE or WRONG TURN flick, filmmaker Adrian Langley and his co-writer Daniel Weissenberger deliver one of the more potent and twisted little backwoods, hillbilly horror films you’re bound to find. The characters of this cat and mouse shocker may be running around here and there and everywhere, but the key to the success of this film is in its simplicity. It’s not trying to be something bigger than it is. It’s just a small group of kids running into a handful of evil men and the men trying to herd all of these cats while the kids desperately try to escape. The action is brisk. The pace is ever moving. And the brutality and hard-hitting.

While these man-monsters may not wear masks of flesh or rely on elaborate forest traps, they are portrayed by talented people who are able to convey a real sense of danger, unpredictability, and utter carelessness towards human life. Maybe they’re cannibals, maybe not. They seem to go by the motto of “Waste not, want not.” But at one point, one of them says that what they’re doing is not as simple as mere cannibalism. Their motivations really are not particularly clear. Everything seems more to be happening in the moment with their intentions vague, which makes these monsters all the more terrifying. Simon Phillips who played the evil Santa in ONCE UPON A TIME AT CHRISTMAS and a trigger happy thug in GEHENNA: WHERE DEATH LIVES, plays Owen, the leader of this group of madmen. His is a powerful performance, reliant on a simmering anger that is on the crux of boiling over. When he does, it is powerful. Phillips gives a subtle and hard-nosed performance that is better than what a film of this kind usually possesses. Michael Swatton also delivers a strong play as Oswald, Owen’s brother, who is dim-witted, but sick of being mistreated by everyone. The way he lashes out to try to prove his wits and power is again, an attention to character that you’re most likely not going to see in a cannibal hillbilly film, making it all the more interesting and entertaining.

All around, this is a well acted film, with people acting and reacting smartly, rather than the usual brainless running about. Actresses Julie Mainville and Anne-Carolyne Binette also show up with some convincing and strong roles as two victims who never stop fighting back against these monsters. BUTCHERS impressed the hell out of me and while the film really doesn’t have lot of flourish, it does deliver strong characters, a powerful sense of action and shock, as well as a horrifying sense of dread from beginning to end, focusing on the senselessness unpredictability of violence in strange and uncharted places. This is simple, unflinching, and brutal horror at its very best.

Check out the trailer here!!