Chop

Director: Trent Haaga

Notable Cast: Will Keenan, Timothy Muskatell, Mark Irvingsen, Adam Minarovich

Rating: NR

Review:  I know the date on this movie has 2010 stapled to it, but Bloody Disgusting Selects didn’t release Chop till December 27th 2011 on iTunes, and between holiday festivities I never got a chance to catch Trent Haaga’s bloody horror comedy.  Close enough to a 2012 review for me!  With my newly acquired iPhone giving me the capability to fit a movie in during my NYC commute daily (when I don’t pass out),  I can finally catch up on past missed films.  Chop started this trend off on the right foot, making me love BD Selects even more for bringing me an underrated horror flick that would typically fly under the radar until I stumbled upon it on Netflix years later.  One can only imagine the kind of judgement from my fellow commuters in the connected seats, glancing over to me lowly but visibly chucking at a psychopath chopping body parts off an ex-junkie.  Is it ever too early in the morning for a decapitation?  Probably not the moment meant to be sharing with mainstreamers who don’t appreciate a genre like horror/comedy, but having more time for film is fantastic none the less, no matter.  But what genre to better start with…well for me…that is…

Chop tells the story of Lance (Keenan), a reformed drug addict with a regrettable past.  He tries to forget the mistakes he made while under the influence by focusing on his wife and work, yet one of those mistakes doesn’t want him to walk away squeaky clean.  A stranger from his twisted past (Muskatell) drugs Lance and kidnaps him, forcing Lance to commit heinous crimes unless he can remember and apologize for what wrongs he specifically did to the grudge holding man.  Not only that, but as time goes on, the stranger informs Lance he’ll be taking something personal until he remembers.  Lance quickly finds out that something is a body part, as night by night he wakes up with a new bandage and minus some flesh.  Lance has no choice but to play the stranger’s diabolical game, fighting for his life just trying to appease the crazed man.  As Lance digs up his dirty past, naming foul deeds just hoping he’ll get lucky and the situation might pertain to the man, he finds out sometimes the past isn’t easy to escape without giving an arm or a leg.  Seriously.

For every action, there is an equal, opposite, and psychotic reaction?

If you are familiar with Troma films and love their delusional sense of style, Chop is right up your alley as Haaga is quite familiar with the B-Movie juggernaut company.  After breaking into the industry by acting for a few Troma films, getting a chance to write for the Toxic Avenger, and then striking acclaim writing the underground hit Dead Girl, his first directorial effort Chop oozes influence from his upbringing.  Chop is created to be extremely self-aware in presentation, as to perpetuate the farfetched scenario, but never breaking narrative or the 4th wall to say, and never EVER take itself seriously.  Hagaa’s vision keeps Chop silly enough to laugh at and enjoy the story, still remembering in the real world someone couldn’t torture and murder at will with no repercussions.  But for all intents and purposes, Chop exists in a Troma world where janitors can become super powered beasts via a nice radioactive bath, so keep that in perspective.  Tongue in cheek, Chop exists purely for those who like their fun intertwined with severed limbs and blood soaked walls.

Our actors only bolster the Troma comparison, through both connection and appearance.  You think giving a deep and provocative emotional tour de for force performance was anywhere on their minds or Hagaa’s direction?  Keenan, as main character/victim Lance, is outlandish and bright with emotion during his role, converting fear into comedy during his impending doom.  More importantly though is Keenan’s portrayal fits the already established ludicrous script, careful to avoid integrity destroying overly serious acting.  No one’s winning an Oscar for a film like Chop, which is why an actor like George Clooney isn’t starring in it (granted he was Seth Gecko in From Dusk Till Dawn).  No.  Keenan, also a Troma alumni, embraced his mental paranoia comically, even when depicted completing a mundane task like watering the grass (shades pulled down, eyes darting frantically).  In the same respect, Muskatell only came off as Silence of the Lambs psycho because of his cool calm sanity.  Walking around with an air of validity and reasoning, the stranger believed completely Lance deserved every ounce of pain inflicted, but all he wanted in return was simple recognition and admittance.  A very human and emotional concept that drove him to brutally violent edges we get to enjoy.  Their interactions are witty and perverse, and also a little sad when the scenario is fully grasped, but a smirk always waits around the corner during dialogue.  Now, characters like the two cops try to pull the same low-grade looks, but film after film these fillers never really stick, so it’s best just to write each off as plot pushers and continue.  Lance and Mr. Choppy deserve all the focus, but it’s fun to meet the other quirky supporting characters along the way who show up for their own revenge on Lance’s depraved past.

I feel as if I throw this disclaimer up all too often, but Chop is not for everyone.  To the untrained horror/comedy anti-fanboy, Chop is an unrealistic story with over-the-top gore carried out by actors who appear to be forcing laughable character depictions, because in a way, yeah, it is.  But Chop proves Haaga is a director that knows how to play to his direct audience, understanding the types of people drawn to such a gruesome film.  Like me (swear I’m a super nice guy and not part-time serial killer).  To me, Chop shows that revenge is a dish best served bloodied, battered, and full of laughs.  Sit back and enjoy everything Chop isn’t…but at least have some background for the horror genre in place.  The one thing Chop isn’t is a catalyst to spark some new film genre relationship, instead a reminder why us genre lovers fell head over heels in the first place.

Final Rating: 7.5 dismembered body parts out of 10

Why I’m afraid to black out ever…

-Natobomb

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About Matt Donato

I love all things film. I'll watch any genre, any actor, at any time. This whole film critic thing is a passionate hobby for now which I'm balancing with working in the business world, but hey, someday, who knows?
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