December 27, 2011
Timothy Muskatell as The Stranger
Caleb Emerson as Hardware Clerk
Chad Ferrin as Bobby Reed
Ricardo Gray as Monica
Max Haaga as Young Lance
Mark Irvingsen as Ray
Camille Keaton as Mrs. Reed
Billy Bakshi as Lance Reed
Chop begins with the abduction of Lance Reed (Billy Bakshi) by an unknown stranger (Timothy Muskatell). The stranger is determined that Lance “come clean” for some wrong he apparently committed against The Stranger in the past, but Lance has no idea what he’s talking about. No amount of threatening or chiding by The Stranger can jar Lance’s memory, so on to plan ‘B’; The Stranger has an accomplice holding his wife hostage and her screams can be heard through the speaker on his cellphone. If Lance won’t come clean on the dastardly deed he supposedly committed against The Stranger, then he will have to complete a morbid task to avoid hearing his lovely bride cut to ribbons.
And the deed? Well, The Stranger has been busy and also abducted Lance’s brother Bobby (Chad Ferrin), and has him tied up under a tarp. Lance is to kill his brother with an ax to save his wife. Plus there is some additional motivation: The Stranger has photographs and video footage from earlier in the week that prove that Lance’s brother has been having a vigorous sexual affair with his (slutty) wife. If Lance doesn’t comply, everyone will die. If he does comply then he will be set free, but he is forbidden to reveal his knowledge of his wife’s infidelities, and if he does the Stranger will return to torment poor Lance before turning him into the police for murder.
Ultimately this no-win situation continues to spiral out of control, and with each new piece of information the definitions of villain and victim begins to flip on top of themselves; and then again. And again.
Chop is a film that walks a line between slapstick “Jerry Lewis” humor and ironic black comedy. The performances are overdone and larger than life, but by design because the plotline couldn’t be followed without ridiculous performances to give life to an absurd chain of events. And absurd those events are… including instances of revenge and revelation with lesbian hookers and mildly retarded homosexual bikers with a violent streak. Our poor unsuspecting victim Lance, we come to find out, has a few stories of his own as well. The whole thing is just a mess.
One thing is certain about Chop though – it definitely will keep your attention. Even if the slapstick or the stupid decisions inspires a groan or twenty, you will likely find that in spite of yourself you’re engrossed. Is the effect similar to the power that makes it impossible to look away from a traffic accident, or is this film actually compelling? I’m not quite sure, but since we’re not talking about a ruined or lost life on the side of the road, it doesn’t really matter.
Chop is interesting and fun, sometimes funny, and always absurd. But make no mistake: If Billy Bakshi starts a muscular dystrophy telethon I’m going to have to draw the line.