BECKONING THE BUTCHER (2013)
Written and directed by Dale Trott
Internet star Chris Shaw loves to make videos for his online fanbase in which he performs rituals documented on the web that are said to conjure up spirits or paranormal entities. After his latest one fails, just like the many others previously, he decides to try ‘Beckoning The Butcher’ which involves a group summoning. Convincing four of his friends to participate for his video, they travel to an abandoned, isolated farmhouse to perform the ritual. Whilst it starts off quiet, like most of his other attempts at connecting with spirits, the evening soon turns into a living nightmare.
Australian found footage horror thriller BECKONING THE BUTCHER is presented as a documentary, one that includes the ‘found’ footage of Chris and his friends interspersed with interviews with Chris’ brother, a professional psychic and the police officer in charge of the investigation into their disappearance.
Like most found footage films of the noughties, BECKONING THE BUTCHER is pretty much a cookie-cutter film where a group of young people innocently set out to do something fun, not realising what trouble they’re going to get into. To be fair, most horrors are laid out like this and whilst BECKONING THE BUTCHER isn’t much different, it does have the appeal of a likable cast to get the viewer on side. However, not much character development is explored, leaving the viewer sitting idle awaiting the obvious, imminent danger to present itself and put the lives of the characters at risk. Relying on tension to create a feeling of unease, its spectres hide in the dark, appearing for a split second, with shadowy figures standing in the corner of the room – a common sight in horrors of today.
With a handheld camera shot film like this, expect the shots to be all over the place when the panic starts, so be warned if you suffer from motion sickness. I was mildly affected by this but not as bad as other found footage films which choose to be shaky throughout. This film’s camerawork is pretty steady for most of the film, only going mental once the characters are being hounded by the evil they unleash.
BECKONING THE BUTCHER refuses to be a gorefest, instead relying on bumps and jumps to scare the viewer, and even they are few and far between. Being a tale about rituals and summoning spirits, the film takes on a paranormal edge, albeit a malicious one. Though it takes a little while for the scares to occur in the movie, the short running time of 70 minutes ensures the film doesn’t outstay its welcome.
Though BECKONING THE BUTCHER is hardly a bad film, it isn’t a particularly good one either. Though the characters are likable and seem to have a genuine friendship that the viewer can believe and invest in, there just isn’t enough substance in the scares or plot to keep the viewer engrossed and entertained. If you’re easily spooked, this mild chiller might work for you, but hardcore horror fans will be left wanting something more.