“Butchered” is a neatly packed, burst of low-budget slasher horror directed by Charles Stewart Jr. with co-directors Sheila Brothers and Shaun O'Rourke. Honestly I hope those are more honorary co-directing credits, because I don’t see why a film that falls just over an hour really needs multiple directors, but whateve. That is no issue really. “Butchered”stars the standard cast of characters played by Timothy Woodward Jr., Nikki Beall, Cory Broadwater, Robert Covington, Kit Johnson, D.J. Naylor, Jaime Moffett, plus a few other actors in a story that follows a group of friends, who take off on vacay to a small secluded island, off the coast of the Carolinas.
The story is a nice, classic nightmare of slasher fanfare that places the young up against the force of a homicidal psycho, butcher. The set-up is thought out, leading us through a nice, “all fall down” scenario that, considering the budget and talent, manages to create an easy, story arc. The dialog is a bit underwhelming, and melodramatic, but it gets you there fundamentally. Personally I think the writing is too “over-thought” with the material seeming cliché and unauthentic. However this is only a slight hindrance and nothing that effects the ability to watch the film. Some characters are more driven to emote the stories intentions while a couple stagger through the lines and scenes systematically. Still this is a “slice-n-dice” flick so all they need to do is be there and die for the camera. This they definitely do.
The acting is the quality you would expect in a low-budget flick like this, like I stated before some actors give a better performance than others. The actual dialog and character development is sort of weak, often creating disconnected and unconvincing performances. Still there are moments when the acting and dramatic character interactions pick-up and deliver, giving us some suspense and enough connection to move the story along. The actual story is a pretty nice “birth of a slasher” narrative with recognizable 80 slasher influence.
As for the special effects and sound effects in “Butchered” I am split on both. The music and instrumental created the desired effect that Stewart was aiming for, my issue is I felt it was hokey, white-washed and too damn sugary. Plus the timing for these elements coming in to the scenes, guiding the feeling of the story, often seemed “over produced” and a bit too clichéd. It created an unintended cheese factor that came off more Disney than horror. The special effects on the other hand worked for most of the kill scenes, with nice camera angles, little editing tricks that leave the gore implied, like the vintage horror films used, give credibility to the scenes.
The blood and visceral elements are practical effects. They are limited with most deaths and brutality implied, but enough shows to create a nice effect. The killer is a menacing monster guy with the stoic brutality of any antagonist in slasher horror. I know it sounds like I didn’t like the film but I did, actually. It isn’t anything special but for a cut-down film that is only a few minutes over an hour, “Butchered” gives a comparable, quick, slasher nightmare.