Beckoning the Butcher DVD Review
Written and Directed by Dale Trott
2013, Region 2 (PAL), 85 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 13th October 2014
Damien E. Lipp as Chris Shaw
Stephanie Mauro as Tara McQuarrie
Sophie Wright as Nicole Goodlowe
Tristan Barr as Brent Wellborne
Tilly Legge as Lorraine Castanon
Lliam Murphy as David Shaw
Cocking about in the bowels of the Internet, a wannabe filmmaker and his silly buddies find and decide to test an occult ritual known as 'beckoning the butcher'. Why they couldn't just stick with Red Tube or Two Girls, One Cup like normal teenagers is beyond me, but here we are, and there Beckoning the Butcher is.
A fairly typical found footage horror film punctuated with family and expert interviews, this Australian effort does very little that you won't have seen elsewhere. It packs its young heroes off to the middle of nowhere, follows them as they do something inadvisable, and then spends the remainder of the running time floundering in the darkness with the usual night-vision nonsense and constant shrieking. This is done well enough for what it is – and those ubiquitous found footage gimmicks are used more sparingly than they could have been – but there is still an enormous sense of retreading old ground that Beckoning the Butcher does little to avoid.
The arcane rituals, Internet aspect and talking head elements of the story prevent fatigue setting in too early, while the Australian accents offer a little more variation than we might be used to. As a first full-length feature, it certainly doesn't embarrass writer and director Dale Trott, who at least ensures that it never wears out its welcome; at a scant 70 minutes, it's over and done with quickly enough.
Those with a vendetta against found footage horror films will find little to change their mind in Beckoning the Butcher. While it is technically proficient, well-told and decently acted, it comes fully loaded with the various kinks and tics which usually accompany this sort of movie. Furthermore, its characters are annoying (once again, the rule that the worst character is always the guy holding the camera stands true), its titular spooky butcher not remotely scary. It will probably appeal to two groups of people – those who actively enjoy found footage horror (an alien mindset, I must confess), and those who haven't seen much of the subgenre beyond Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project. As a fellow who has seen at least a hundred or so of these low-budget POV nightmares, my own preferences tend to lie towards the less enthusiastic end of the spectrum.
Still, my jaded interest was held by the film, even during its more predictable moments. Would I recommend seeking it out? Probably not. Would I advocate actively avoiding it? No; it's an acceptable way to kill an hour. In the absence of Red Tube, at least.
Video and Audio:
It looks and sounds awful, but that would be the point.
There’s a director and cast commentary, deleted scenes (three alternate death sequences – none as good as actually portrayed in the film itself) and trailers.