Brutal (2007)

Ethan Wiley's serial slashfest.
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Brutal - Ethan Wiley's Serial Slashfest

If a movie has a bound and ceilingly suspended lady of the slutty persuasion receive a chainsaw to the spine before the opening credits then you can pretty much expect me to enjoy it. If a horror movie stars Jeffery Coombs and Michael Berryman then you can guarantee I will get a teensy bit excited. Ethan Wiley's Brutal encapsulates both concepts so I expected my DVD player to experience a white Christmas a few weeks early... although something about the movie made the brakes apply and despite being fun it wasn't exceptional. Apart from some fearlessly brutal gore, a twisted concept and some nice insensitivity, the star of the show is Eric Lange's performance of Evan, the coolest serial killer to hit the screen since Dahmer was reincarnated as a moth and flew down the fast lane of a motorway on a cold winter's night. Evan is disturbing in a number of ways; firstly he has a plan which is always something to be wary of when dealing with serial killers. Secondly he really does look like a genuinely adorable, shy and awkward neighbour that would be a pleasure to live next door too. Thirdly he's a school teacher and last but not least he's a gore addict with a range of power tools and gardening implements.

Evan aside, the whole movie has a very disconcerting feel to it and manages to weave a tangled and fly ridden web of side storyline through some rather vicious stabs of violence. The plot is well thought through and despite some gorgeous gore, lashings of crimson claret and a few horror icons the movie still manages to maintain that independent feel, possibly due to the fact that there is obviously no dumbing down of the bloodshed for the mainstream whilst maintaining a credibility with the killings that occur. Don't expect any Oscar winning performances or astounding CGI blood splatter over vast rendered fantasy landscapes but who wants that shit anyway? Do expect some quintessential horror characters and some creative killings padded out with a rather superfluous yet ultimately necessary love triangle (as in "cheating husband" rather than the furry part of an action hole).

Sherriff Jimmy Fleck (Jeffrey Combs) and his weekend "in-out" Deputy Zoe Adams (Sarah Thompson) are investigating a number of brutal murders in their small town community without alerting the locals as election day is coming soon and Sherriff Fleck is hoping to gain the popular vote. The impending election is also making Jimmy reconsider his adulterousness with his deputy which always puts pressure on a working relationship. Struggling to find any leads on the perpetrator of these violent misdemeanours except for a different flower left at the scene of each crime, the quick thinking Deputy Adams decides that the need has arisen to enlist the help of a retired sniffer dog trainer named Leroy Calhoun (Michael Berryman) with an obsessive compulsive disorder involving touching door handles and then having to do the old "open-close" 34 times.

As the plot thickens and the mystery of the horticulturalists florid calling card is unravelled, Deputy Zoe Adams realizes that she could very well be next on the hit list. Will she survive the flowery demise planned for her? Will she be saved by Leroy or will a door get in the way? Will Jimmy Fleck become Jimmyless Fleck at the hands of his jealous wife? Maybe, but it wouldn't be right to say here.

Brutal has been criticized for the killer's identity being revealed at the beginning of the movie but that fact doesn't spoil the entertainment factor in the slightest, in fact getting to know the lovable Evan makes him seem like such a more menacing character. This isn't a headfuck slasher, there are no surprises and the story flows as regularly as a reproductively-aged female from the bloody crimson beginning to the dark and sticky ending, but it is a nice stalk-n-slash with inventive gruesomely executed butchery, some cool characters and an endearing and understanding look at mental disorders, for which I am grateful. There are no boundaries broken, nothing never seen before and no "holy fuck it's a gloryhole Batman" moments but Brutal takes the slasher slash serial killer concept and injects entertainment without resorting to cheap gags and potty humour and introduces the viewer to a serial killer for all potential teenage serial killers to aspire to.
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Categories: Slasher Movies
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