Butcher Boys Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
DVD released by 101 Films
Directed by Duane Graves and Justin Meeks
Written by Kim Henkel
2012, 86 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 24th March 2014
Ali Faulkner as Sissy
Johnny Walter as Bossboy
Derek Lee Nixon as Benny
Tory Tompkins as Barbie
It’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, except in an inner city environment, with minimal chainsaw action. It does have one of the creators of the 1974 masterpiece involved though, in the shape of writer and producer Kim Henkel. Okay, so he did also direct the worst Massacre (the abysmal Next Generation) but nobody’s perfect. Just ask Tobe Hooper, whose career hardly blossomed after his Chain Saw Massacre. With Henkel on writing duties, relative newcomers Duane Graves and Justin Meeks handle the direction… loudly.
You can probably pick up the rest of the plot yourself from there, given that almost everything Henkel has had a hand in writing has exactly the same plot. That’s not an entirely bad thing, since much of the charm of the backwoods horror film (for me, anyway) is in seeing those time-honoured traditions unfold in all their gory glory.
Unfold they do in Butcher Boys, which could only feel more like a Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel/remake if it had Leatherface himself bumbling about in one of the back rooms, carving himself a sizeable portion of headcheese. After a birthday celebration goes awry in a swanky restaurant, siblings Sissy and Mikey find themselves besieged by the barbaric Boneboys – vicious yet entrepreneurial dealers in human flesh, determined to claim Sissy and her friends for their own. Claiming to be inspired by Jonathan Swift’s 1729 essay A Modest Proposal, it sets itself apart from the rest with its inner city setting and very squelchy gore sequences.
In my recent review of Cabin Fever 3, I found myself talking about the principle of Chekhov’s Gun, while here I’m discussing classic literature in A Modest Proposal. Whoever said horror films couldn’t be intelligent or well-read? Well, okay, Butcher Boys might not be ‘intelligent’ by anyone’s standards, but it was good of them to do some background reading. A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick would be a great title for a horror film, but Butcher Boys’ ‘inspiration’ tends to forget Swift’s satire, instead focusing entirely on the cannibalism and gore. Possibly wise, although I wouldn’t have minded a little satirical bite (no pun intended) and slightly less hysterical screaming.
Henkel’s script recycles a lot of his own old material, while the (loud) acting is reminiscent of chainsaw massacres past too. The hulking great imbecile is just Leatherface by another name, while another character sounds almost exactly like Jim Siedow mid-rant. There’s even a scene in which he chases a shrieking not-Leatherface around a table, followed by the obligatory ‘terrified captive at the dinner table’ sequence. Still, there is undisputable variety to the unpleasantness in-between Henkel’s rehashed material, and a hyperactive punk vibe that makes it a hard film to dislike. The city setting really comes into its own for the climax, which is where the action seems to go insane. There’s a bazooka and everything.
Brutal, gory and disarmingly amusing, Butcher Boys is a fun film by The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’s less remembered co-creator and two exciting new directors. It’s far from a prime cut, but Butcher Boys is a surprisingly meaty slab of cannibal horror.