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BRUTAL
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Reviewed by: Ammon Gilbert

Directed by: Ethan Willey

Starring:
Jeffrey Combs
Sarah Thompson
Michael Berryman

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
A serial killer with a fetish for gardening tools, flowers, and hot chicks is on the loose in Blackwater Valley. Now it's up to one smokin' deputy, one sleazy sheriff and one 'slow' bloodhound owner to track the killer down.
Is it good movie?
This movie is an example of why you should never judge a book (or in this case, DVD) by it's cover. See that dude with the scar and pupil-less eyes? He's not in this movie. See that meat hook hanging in the background? That's the only one you'll see here. And the chainsaw? Well... it's not here either. So why the hell is all this stuff on the cover? Marketing and the idea that if it looks like HOSTEL, then people might pick it up... bugh!

But enough about that, and onto the movie itself! This flick surprised the hell out of me, as I was basically expecting a HOSTEL rip-off with a fetish for the ultra-violent. What I got was a sometimes campy serial killer/ slasher movie starring a killer I couldn't help but like, a body count full of hot chicks, a deputy/sheriff love affair that I could care less about and one horror legend (once again) rocking the casbah.

Let's start with the good: I dug the killer's style, as he seemed like your everyday mild-mannered science teacher, with a fetish for flowers and killing his victims with a variety of gardening tools (clippers, hedge trimmers, extended limb cutters, shears, shovel, etc...). While the body count was rising, I never felt threatened by the guy, and honestly... I was kind of rooting for him. Yes, he didn't have a good motive (other than liking flowers and killing hotties), but in the end, that didn't really matter because I was having a good time! Speaking of body count, this guy was one sexually frusterated mofo, as his vicitms (all but 2) were smokin' hot chicks in skimpy outfits. Nice! Best part (besides the chicks being hot and skimpy), was that all the characters that did die were really asking for it! I love it when that happens! Take one fun killer (known here as Mr. Milbrook), throw in a mass weaponary of gardening tools , a rising body count and some hot naked lesbo action, and you have yourself one entertaining ride.

I also have to give it up for horror legend Michael Berryman, playing the 'slow' owner of the bloodhounds on the hunt for the killer. He may have been slow, but he was the only character here who seemed to know what was going on. His presence was also appreciated, as it's always good to see him on the big screen.

With all this good, could there possibley be any bad? Yes... and then some. First off, we'll start with the obvious: the sheriff (Jeffrey Combs) and his deputy (Sarah Thompson, smokin' hot in her uniform) are having an affair. Actually, they're really just talking about the fact that they're having an affair, with all the usual issues coming up for a situation like this. She wants him to leave his family, he just wants f*ck her. Same old story, right? Well, they must have thought this was a first, because they devoted enirely too much time on these two. Their characters were stupid and this whole 'affair' angle got in the way of the slasher horror aspect that was working so well.

What really sucked is that I'm usually a big fan of Combs, and here he just didn't have it. Sometimes he would shine, but mostly he stunk, or rather, his character stunk. Not even Combs could make this guy worth watching. And Thompson? Easily the worse actor in the movie. She's a hottie, no doubt, but her acting could use some help.

And finally, this may seem petty, but damnit- the title just didn't fit the movie! BRUTAL? Hardly! Would've preferred something more along the lines of what it was really about, like simply MR. MILBROOK, or GARDENING TOOLS MASSACRE, but BRUTAL? Add that together with the lame-ass (and unrelated) cover art... and you have yourself a movie that wasn't half bad, but felt a lot worse due to the poor decisions of the marketing department.

Video / Audio
Video: Crisp, clear and presented in anamorphic widescreen, enhanced for my 16x9 TV.

Audio: 2.0 Stereo. Not only was this lame, but the audio on the 'Behind the Scenes Featurette' was terrible. This film did not pass the audio test.

The Extras
Advanced Gardening Techniques with Mr. Milbrook: A collection of behind the scenes footage cut together in a seemingly random order that goes on and on for about 21 minutes. A few interviews here, candid behind the scene shots there, and audio so terrible it was hard to hear at times, this is one featurette that actually hurt the final product. Skip it.

Audio Commentary with Director Ethan Willey: In the bits and pieces Willey appeared in the above featurette he seemed like an energetic dude who really had a good time making this movie. But his commentary is so unenthusiastic, monotonous and boring, that you'd think this movie is his little red-headed step-child he wants nothing to do with. One interesting fact I picked up, however, was that BRUTAL is actually a prequel to Willey's other film, BLACKWATER VALLEY EXORICSM, with a few characters making appearances in both films. Now that you know that, there's really no reason for you to check this commentary out.

Trailers: We get a buttload of red-band Lionsgate trailers here, including: RICHARD SPECK: CHICAGO MASSACRE, DRIVE-THRU (which looks flippin' awesome), THE CURSE OF THE ZODIAC, THE TOMB, THE ABANDONED, ED GEIN: THE BUTCHER OF PLAINFIELD, and DIARY OF A CANNIBAL.

Production Stills: You have about 8 still from the movie here. Yippee.

Last Call
Even though it's really not that brutal, I had a good time with this movie. It was light and campy, and it never took itself too seriously... except when it focused on the idiotic relationship between Combs and Thompson. If you take out their overly dramatic love affair, you'd have yourself one entertaining slasher flick showcasing a cast of hot chicks, an arsenal of gardening tools and one likable killer. I don't suggest buying this movie... but it's worth a rental- you could do a whole helluva lot worse!
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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