VOD REVIEW: CHOP / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: TRENT HAAGA / SCREENPLAY: ADAM MINAROVICH / STARRING: WILL KEENAN, TIMOTHY MUSKATELL, CHAD FERRIN / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW VIA THEHORRORSHOW.TV
Kidnapped by a mysterious loon, the seemingly innocent Lance (Will Keenan) is tormented by a man who claims to know him, demanding vengeance for sins past. After taking his anger out on Lance's brother and wife, the stranger begins systematically removing body parts – starting with fingers, escalating to bigger, less easily replaced bits. What follows is like a much less good I Saw the Devil crossed with a much less funny episode of My Name is Earl.
What sets Chop apart from other low-budget horror films is the ambition of its storytelling and its willingness to go weirder and further than we might be used to when watching this sort of thing. Whether it's Diff'rent Strokes jokes, shenanigans with a bionic eye or accidental prostitute murder, there's more to Chop than the grim torture schlock you might have expected from the synopsis. That, however, does not always prove to be a good thing.
Graced with the most irritating antagonist this side of a Jigsaw protégé, Chop wastes its potentially good actors by letting them chew the scenery throughout. For Keenan, this isn't so bad – the man has a brilliantly expressive face, like a more serious Jim Carrey, and is well served by a story which lets him be mean, sympathetic and shambolic in equal measures – but Timothy Muskatell's stranger is a snivelling, gurning pain of a man. If Keenan is Carrey, that makes Muskatell the Tommy Lee Jones of this Batman Forever; a fine performer, overacting himself into embarrassment. Dialling it back a little would have done wonders for the film; after all, unless you're a Bond villain or the Joker, grandstanding villain monologues should be avoided at all times.
Feeling too long in spite of its reasonable runtime, we could easily do without the first half an hour or so (insert 'chop' joke here) – there's no need for the comedy cops routine, the cheating wife or most of what precedes Lance being strapped to a table ready for his de-limb-ening – especially given that most of his character is revealed after this point anyway. Still, it is fitfully amusing and admirably zany, most notably during its first major chop sequence, and director Trent Haaga (co-writer of the wonderful Cheap Thrills) imbues the film with a great sense of energy, even when it's busy getting bogged down in the unnecessary and tiresome. Chop certainly isn't for everyone but, well, you know what they say about different strokes.