December 26, 2011

DVD Review: Chop

Is there anything quite like watching a movie that you do not know what to expect or any expectations whatsoever and discovering an entertaining gem? Well, there are probably a lot of things that could match that. Still, I must admit to being quite satisfied when I sit down and check out a movie that turns out to be rather good. It doesn't even have to be great, if it is entertaining and well executed, more often than not it is going to be enough. Such is the case with Chop. It is the latest release from Bloody Disgusting Selects line.

This is not exactly a great movie, but it is inventive, funny, and when it gets to the end it may even make your jaw drop. This is a movie that is not really heavy on the blood, although there certainly is some to be found, it is one that takes a pitch black look at a psychopath/victim relationship. It will make you laugh and cringe and wonder just what else is going to happen. It is a low budget film that knows how to make the best use of its money, it implies some things, uses limited sets, and relies on the central characters and the relationship they have.

It all starts so innocently. A man driving down the road and his car breaks down. After some time of frustration he is picked up by a friendly bloke. As they drive they chat, our hitchhiker, Lance (Will Keenan of Tromeo and Juliet), tells of his half brother and his wife. The driver, simply known as The Stranger (Timothy Muskatell), poses this simple question "If you could only save one, who would it be? Your wife or your brother?" This is followed by the odd question "Have you ever been shot by a tranquilizer gun?" This last question is followed by the real thing.

Now, this is a movie where you really cannot learn too much about what the plot is, lest you start giving things away. I mean the way this movie has a steady relentless flow of the bizarre is quite inviting. We are privy to the sickness of the psychopathic stranger, the increasing anxiety of Lance, and the mystery of what it is that connects them. Let's just say that when you find out what the connection is, you will not believe it. Not only that, the revelations we get along the way are pretty wild to.

Keenan and Muskatell turn in some strong performances. Will Keenan has some great reactions and expressions of incredulity that are just fantastic. He may be a touch over the top but it never turns into parody, it all fits the odd one of the film. Combine that with the cold, calculating, and slightly off kilter actions of Muskatell as the Stranger. He is the kind of Every Man psychotic that should scare you, he looks just like everyone else.

The movie was written by Adam Minarovich and has a nice sense for wordplay. The tale is populated primarily with Lance and the Stranger and their dialogue is snappy, genial, and just sounds right, as bizarre is that might be. Directed by first timer Trent Haaga (who wrote the excellent Deadgirl), Chop just keeps building and building into something increasingly strange and twisted. Perfectly paced and not overly long, this tale does not overstay its welcome. It gets to the point and gets out.

No, this is not a great film and could easily have been more extreme, but as it stands, it is a very satisfying excursion into low budget horror with a comic twist. Looking for something a little different? This is it.

Audio/Video. The DVD is presented in a 1.85:1 ratio and generally looks pretty good. Detail is solid and blacks are good. Still, it seems to lean a little towards the flat side of the coin. Most of the film takes place in relatively well lit locations and it just looks pretty good. Nothing particularly special to write home about and no scenes that I could necessarily point to as being particularly special. Likewise, the stereo audio track has crisp and clear dialogue, but nothing really jumps out at you. There is not much in the way of ambiance, it just is what it is.

Extras. The disk has a short gag reel with flubbed lines, prop gun problems, and the usual gag reel stuff. It is pretty funny. There are also a couple of deleted scenes to round it out. Too bad there isn't a commentary track.

Bottomline. I had no expectations for this movie and while it is not one I would term great, it is a solid example of what good writing and effective performances can mean to a film. This is a clever film that certainly sets itself apart from a good chunk of the direct to video market and certainly deserves some attention.



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