A Great Blend of Horror and Comedy

Main Cast: Will Keenan and Timothy Muskatell

Director: Trent Haaga

As many movie reviews as I write, I don’t actually review every movie I see. Sometimes I get to the end of a movie and just don’t feel like spending the time it takes to write the review. I was pretty close to not reviewing this movie. In fact, I was pretty close to not even finishing it. I read the synopsis on Netflix about a man who accepts a ride from a stranger and it turns out the stranger knows him from the past and begins torturing him until he apologizes for some wrong he committed against the man. Sounded promising.

But then I started it and the movie was being played more as a horror comedy which, sure, sometimes I’m in the mood for, but I wasn’t on this particular morning; I wanted a straight horror movie, dammit. So I almost stopped watching and moved on to something else. But a strange thing happened: I kept watching. And while I kept telling myself you’re going to stop watching this movie in a couple minutes, I just never did it. I kept watching. And kept watching. And pretty soon I was so engrossed, I decided I was going to finish it, because how could I not?

And even then, I almost didn’t bother with the review. But here I am.

Chop is a 2011 movie from writer Adam Minarovich (he played Carol’s abusive husband Ed on “The Walking Dead”) and director Trent Haaga (he played the titular demonic clown in three of the Killjoy movies) and stars Will Keenan (Tromeo andJuliet) as Lance Reed.

One day while driving on the highway, Lance’s car breaks down. It takes a while, but finally a car pulls over for him. The driver seems pleasant enough as Lance complains about the piece of crap car his half-brother Bobby sold him. The driver asks Lance a hypothetical question, if you had to save your wife or your brother, who would you save? His wife, Lance says, no question. That was a weird thing to ask, though.

The driver has another question, and it may sound a little bit weirder. Has Lance ever been shot by a tranquilizer gun?

Lance says no, then the driver shoots him, allowing Lance to answer Yes to that question the next time he’s asked.

Cut to a little bit later and the driver has Lance’s half brother Bobby bound to a chair. Kill your brother with this ax, the driver tells Lance, or I’ll have my associate murder your wife. He lets Lance hear the screams coming from the phone. Lance buries the ax in his brother’s head.

Hahahahahaha, the driver says, I was just kidding. You’re wife’s at home alone, safe and sound. But don’t feel too bad, she was sleeping with your brother.

He shows Lance the photos to prove it and says here’s what’s gonna happen: you’re gonna go home and pretend like nothing ever happened. You’re not gonna yell at her, you’re not gonna leave her. If you do, Bobby’s body turns up with your DNA all over the murder weapon. And all of this could have been avoided, he adds, if you’d just apologized for what you did to me.

Lance has no idea who the guy is or what he’s talking about, but he’s thrilled to be going home and he agrees. Three weeks later, he’s not having a great time dealing with things, and he almost let’s slip to his wife that he knows about her and Bobby. But when he gets too close to revealing what he knows, the driver intervenes. When he almost spills it again, the driver shoots Lance’s wife and cuts off one of Lance’s fingers. Next it’s the rest of the fingers. Next it’s all the fingers on the other hand. And all Lance has to do is remember him and apologize.

Chop is a story that probably applies to everyone here. We’ve all wronged someone in some way or other, even down to insignificant–to us–matters that we promptly forgot all about. But they were moments that mattered to someone else, and they’ve possibly carried that anger around for a long time. What happens when they come looking for reparations only to find out how little they mattered to us in that moment?

The theme behind Chop is an interesting one, and it’s made all the better by the wonderful script and acting. Like I said, I kept almost turning the movie off and moving on, but as much as I wasn’t in the mood for this type of movie, it kept winning me over every time anyway.

Keenan’s intensity and commitment to the role of Lance was hilarious without crossing over into Jim Carrey levels of ludicrous, while Timothy Muskatell (Deadgirl) as the driver–listed as “The Stranger” in the credits–was the perfect blend of charming and sinister. He played it nice and cool with his Mr. Rogers sweaters and ties, but there was an obvious madness lurking just below the surface.

Director Haaga uses his angles, lightning, and editing to full effect in creating a movie that’s always got something interesting, something worth looking at and something that is going to drive the story forward, on screen. While I felt the effects were a little subpar (the neck application when Lance has the syringe still poking out, and the pathetic attempts to hide his fingers beneath the bloody bandages), Matthew Olivo’s score added greatly to the effect the movie was going for.

Overall, I enjoyed this movie so much more than I thought I would when it started. Almost everything about it won me over in a big way and I highly recommend it to anyone who just wants an entertaining movie to watch on some random night when they’ve got time to kill. I won’t say just anyone is going to like it–there is some gore and violence–but for fans of the horror genre or the horror comedy genre, Chop is right up your alley, believe me.

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