BUTCHER THE BAKERS (2017)

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Directed by:
Written by: ,
Starring: , ,

UK Release Date – To Be Confirmed

I guess I always do some kind of spiel here about the ways horror and comedy can be combined, after all these kind of goofy genre mash-ups are a favourite for me. I’m always hoping (I suppose foolishly) that someone out there will become a kind of VOD version of Sam Raimi or Peter Jackson. The marketing for this one cited Tucker & Dale so I figured it might be possible, and I’m always a firm believeer that passion can over come budgetary restrictions. But while the likes of Clinger and The Neon Dead just about coasted along with likeability when actual quality wasn’t always present, I’m afraid it just isn’t the case here.

I guess the problem is the lack of sympathetic lead characters, and the way the story constantly veers away from them to include a bunch of random subplots and filler. Sam (Sean Walsh) and Martin (Ryan Ziegler) are a pair of scumbags who steal from their employer and scam their customers while working at a bakery, hence the title. While it’s true that these kind of comic archetypes can sometimes be effective, the kind of humour being used is mostly just kind of awkward or irritating. There’s no real redemptive arc in place either, they do it all for the promise of a reward.

Elsewhere the story itself is all over the place with a mysterious figure Lance (Alex Dittmer) trying to stop a grim reaper type character called Drag (Mike Behrens) who has gone rogue. It seems that after being fired by the powers that be, Drag was turned mortal. But because the plot demands it he retained the power to collect the souls of his  victims, and so he plans to do exactly that in an effort to escape our world through a portal of some kind. For one reason or another Lance must recruit other mortal humans to rid the world of Drag, which is apparently a difficult task even though he’s now just a normal guy.

The lack of focus is a big problem, as we jump from Martin and Sam trying to make money with bad commercials to Lance and is attempts to follow the trail of bodies left by Drag. Inevitably he ends up recruiting the two losers to do his dirty work and things shamble along from there. There are also C and D plots involving Lance’s own supernatural employers and a pair of local girls Pat and Dani trying to find out what is going on in the town for their own reasons. What this really boils down to though is a lot of slow expository scenes and a bunch of clumsy dialogue about black magic. I guess they were going for eccentric or wacky but most of the time it feels like bad improvisation. Mostly it’s a series of random scenes in dire need of better editing.

With a change of approach there are some elements that could have worked. There’s a fun gearing up montage as the two protagonists use their kitchen utensils and other household items to build weapons and armour. Drag himself looks like he was fired from an amateur rock group instead of being someone who once worked for a supernatural cause, but at least he has some interesting sidekicks during the proceedings. Actually using these characters in an underdog story where the face off against the forces of evil might have been effective. But instead they’re just two guys in the midst of various other badly defined characters.

In once instance there’s a random scene where Pat (Lisa Wojcik) stands around while her boyfriend embarrasses himself in front of a town council meeting. Why? Does the town itself have a problem that is contributing to Drag’s evil plan? I have no idea, it just feels like a weird skit they forgot to cut. A lot of the comedy is like this, which is to say it’s mostly baffling. During a fight between one of the creatures Drag has summoned, Martin delivers the immortal line ‘that homeless lizard gave me the osteoporosis’. What does this mean? Was the creature not wearing a 14th Century plague doctor mask in the script? Was there a script?

By the time the ending crawls around they introduce a ticking clock device that isn’t clearly explained, and even more random henchmen arrive since they forgot to keep any of the other villains around this long. They get through plenty of fake blood and there are some creative costumes, but it’s just way to messy and lacks the kind of charm that would have carried this. Some of the ideas here are interesting but it fails to package them as part of a simple character piece or simply as a satisfying B-movie narrative. If you want a corny supernatural horror or some actual comedy you’re better off looking elsewhere.

Rating: ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

Mocata
About Mocata 74 Articles
A sucker for classic epics, 80s science fiction and fantasy kitsch, horror, action, animation, stop motion, foreign cinema, martial arts and all kinds of assorted stuff and nonsense. If you enjoy a bullet ballet, a good eye ball gag or a story about time travelling robots maybe we can be friends after all.

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