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’Butchers’ Review: Dir. Adrian Langley [FrightFest Halloween 2020]

Filmmaker Adrian Langley throws back to the deep woods slashers movies of yesteryear with his latest offering to the horror gods, Butchers. Tapping into the tropes of films such as The Hills Have Eyes, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the Wrong Turn series, it sees a quartet of couples apprehended by two backwater brothers that have a sideline as butchers. Filled with a large splatter of blood, the film hopes to replicate the success of its predecessors. 

Friends Jenna (Julie Mainville) and Taylor (Anne-Carolyne Binette), plus their boyfriends Chris (Frederik Storm) and Mike (James Hicks), are travelling back home after celebrating Jenna’s Birthday when their car breaks down. Two of the group volunteer to head into the local town on foot to find help whilst the other pair start to look after the car. Help is the last thing on the mind of the local mechanic, Owen (Simon Phillips),  however, as he and his brother, Oswald (Michael Swatton), make it their mission to teach the tourists some valuable lessons that they won’t soon forget. On paper Butchers sounds a lot like the first Wrong Turn and features several identical plot points as well as some similar locations. 

Butchers does however, offer a fresh take on what we’ve seen a thousand times before as rather than some inbred cannibalistic mutants working on base instinct to hunt and kill, our villains are more adjusted to modern society. They’re still very unhinged, and are the product of a life of seclusion and tradition, seemingly just following on their parents legacy, but they can at least hold a conversation with their victims. There’s a lot to be said for the silent killer and how that inability to communicate with them makes them so terrifying, but there’s also something special about those that you can hold a conversation with. Pinhead in the Hellraiser films is a brilliant example of it. He’ll happily engage in conversation and listen as you try to barter your life, but the outcome is almost always the same – your death. Owen follows the Pinhead template, plainly pointing out what is going to happen and why. He’s also keenly aware of the tropes, remarking to one victim, “we don’t eat people, that would be cliche”. It’s as if he knows exactly who he is, how that looks, and wants to point out that they aren’t the savages that people would try to paint them. It’s a great turn from actor Simon Phillips, and isn’t his only outing as a tormentor at this year’s FrightFest. He’ll also be carving people up as a deranged Santa Claus in The Nights Before Christmas

Opting to set the story in 1998 helps get around that tricksy smartphone conundrum that is ruining the believability of about fifty percent of horror movies today. One could also argue that by setting it so far away in the past, it allows some of the character’s actions to be more easily explained away. None of the four are exactly complex, with Langley sticking firmly to the conventional jock, bitch, brain, and final girl blueprints. This over-reliance on the familiar here detracts from the steps forward that have been made with their villains. It also means that we as an audience aren’t that invested in the foursome, making their eventual deaths far less impactful than they could have been. Instead, it is the character of Celeste (Samantha De Benedet), the opening victim, that the audience feel more of a kinship too. This character doesn’t easily fit into the conventional boxes and, whilst she is not a character that gets much screen time, she is hands down the most compelling. 

In many ways Butchers works as a spiritual sequel or reimagining of Wrong Turn. It offers up some exciting new directions, but ultimately gets a little too bogged down by time-honoured genre tropes. 

Butchers was reviewed at Arrow Video Frightfest Halloween. 

Butchers is available to own on 8th March 2021.


Kat Hughes



Butchers has some interesting new ideas and pushes the genre into some exciting directions. It tries hard to rise above its genre cliches, but doesn’t quite succeed.


Kat Hughes is a UK born film critic and interviewer who has a passion for horror films. An editor for THN, Kat is also a Rotten Tomatoes Approved Critic. She has bylines with Ghouls Magazine, Arrow Video, Film Stories, Certified Forgotten and FILMHOUNDS and has had essays published in home entertainment releases by Vinegar Syndrome and Second Sight. When not writing about horror, Kat hosts micro podcast Movies with Mummy along with her five-year-old daughter.


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