film / tv / substack / social media / lists / web / celeb / pajiba love / misc / about / cbr
film / tv / substack / web / celeb


Chop Review: Like a Drive from Quebec City to Toronto

By Alex Goldberg | Film | July 22, 2011 |

By Alex Goldberg | Film | July 22, 2011 |

My apologies to all the Ontarians out there, but your province is boring. Eastern Quebec is refreshingly green, vibrant and interesting . It’s as if nature decided it wanted more space, and tried to ruin our highway roads in order to expand (all right, so our roads are shit, and it’s the government’s fault, sue me). Once you make your way to the Ontario border, the trees begin to look depressed, the concrete roads are bigger, and you try not to fall asleep. Finally, once you’ve reached Toronto, you’re relieved but too tired and sleepy to enjoy it. This is exactly how I felt watching Chop, from first time director Trent Haaga, who’s appeared in more terrible B-movie horror films than I care to mention (although Dr. Horror’s Erotic House of Idiots seems like something I’d pick up on a slow Friday night) but largely fails at making his own.

The movie centers on Lance Reed (Will Keenan, eerily resembling Chris Kattan), who falls victim to car problems, and is picked up hastily by an unnamed stranger (Timothy Muskatell). Conversation ensues, with the stranger asking Lance whom he would save, his brother or his wife, followed by a few uneasy looks, leading to the stranger shooting Lance with a tranquilizer dart. The scene is unusually claustrophobic, terribly acted, but not over the top enough to dissolve the actual tension that’s built between the two men who seemingly know nothing about each other. The moment works to bring out a laugh from the audience, but an uneasy one, unsure of what could possibly happen next. The first half of the movie works to this same effect, as the relationship between Lance and the stranger becomes more involved, with Lance becoming amusingly paranoid that the stranger could appear from anywhere at any time and begin terrorizing him. Eventually the stranger seizes hold of the situation, putting him, his limbs and his wife in peril. These are by far the most captivating and entertaining parts of the movie.

As the title would dictate, the stranger then kidnaps Lance and further terrorizes him, with predictable results. Unfortunately, for a movie called Chop, there’s very little in the way of actual gore or chopping, and for what little chopping there is, there’s an inordinate amount of terribly written and executed jokes that take away from any sort of joy one would have in watching limbs and body parts get severed. I mean tabarnak de calisse mon ostie, an angry hooker does NOT a joke make. You would think a homosexual biker giving head to an axe would be slightly entertaining, but they butchered it far worse than any limb in the film. By the time the cleverly written final punchline arrives, it’s already 1:30am, the audience barely has any patience to chuckle, and the credits roll. You just wish the drive to get there was a little more fun.

All this to say that you could do much worse than Chop at an indie film festival,
especially when it’s showing things like Invasion of Alien Bikini. For people with short attention spans, the movie runs at a relatively brisk 98 minutes, making a decent add-on to any two-film weekend outings (assuming this thing ever sees the light of day on Netflix or rental stores). It won’t fill up anyone’s cravings for outright gore, but you can see the beginnings of something witty as far as B-movies go, and if Haaga could spruce up his next movie with a solid 2 hour effort, you might end up seeing something worthy of more than just a brief appearance at Fantasia. Like the Ontario 401, all it needs is a little life.

Alex Goldberg is currently reporting from the Fantasia Film Festival. He hails from Montréal, Québec, and is a Ph.D. in the field of molecular and cell biology. He’s an expert in the fields of aging and cancer research and table soccer. His organization, Québec Table Soccer Federation, can be found here.