In the mould of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Butchers focuses on a backwoods family of butchers whose stock is made up of hapless travellers who happen to stray in their neighbourhood.
After a brief introduction to our family, we’re taken to ‘the beginning… of the end’. It’s 1998 and a pair of couples break down on a stretch of road while out driving. Given the year, we don’t have to worry about that ‘no signal’ cliché, but one of the four does have a video camera (“In 25 years, people will film everything”, he quips). Naturally, trying to get a pickup truck from the nearest garage doesn’t end well. This continues to ‘the middle… of nowhere’, where we discover where the family’s meat goes and things get worse. By the time it gets to ‘the end… is near’, things have gone south majorly.
Co-writer (with Daniel Weissenberger) and director Adrian Langley takes more than a few leaves out of the Tobe Hooper classic’s playbook, by being brutal as hell but showing as little as possible. The focus is also more on the dysfunctional family than the victims, who are just the usual teen fodder. Langley uses all the tricks in the backwoods book, but also manages to be unpredictable when needed. It’s gloriously shot, highlighting the contrast of the lovely forest and the grimy shack the victims are kept and that aspect alone raises the quality above the standard well-trodden fare. It’s clear Langley knows we’re all aware of the tropes and isn’t shy about making that obvious, but if you’re going to tread a well-worn path, you might as well do it in style, which is just what he does. While it won’t win any awards for originality, it’s a fun watch for those with a stomach and in the mood for another ‘hillbillies with a cannibal brother’ flick.