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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Butcher Possessions06:24 PM -- Tue October 24, 2017

WARNING! This post contains extensive spoilers for this movie. Watch the movie before reading! Or don't. You have been warned.

The Butcher Possessions (2014)
AKA Beckoning The Butcher
Unrated
IMDB Says:
“When Chris Shaw takes his friends out to an isolated house to make a web video, they summon an evil spirit and must fight for survival once it begins to hunt them down.”
IMDB Rating: 4.8/10
Metacritic Rating: N/A
Rotten Tomatoes: N/A critics, 38% audience
Solee: 2/5
Mikey: 2/5
We watched this on Amazon Prime.

Solee: The Butcher Possessions is a unique kind of found footage movie, as it is formatted like a True Crime documentary. Did you know when you chose it? What, besides the found footage aspect, made you choose this movie?

Mikey: I didn’t know that. I definitely picked it because it was your basic found footage cheese, seemed like the perfect thing to break our streak of high quality movies! I do enjoy the documentary format to it, much like Lake Mungo. I want to make special note though of the poster for this movie which has literally nothing to do with the movie. It’s as if you advertised Buffy The Vampire Slayer by showing a picture of Tom Cruise from Interview With The Vampire.

Solee: I was going to mention the same thing. I actually decided NOT to watch this movie several times because I didn’t want to see the movie that poster was advertising. I needn’t have worried!

Mikey: You shouldn’t be scared, you can never go wrong with a found footage movie! This one being Australian, incidentally, for more international flair.

Solee: Yeah, you and I have differing views on what can go “wrong” in a found footage movie, I think. I actually liked the True Crime doc approach because it allowed for some flexibility in the storytelling. They didn’t have to get every single detail in the “original” found footage because they had interviews with Chris’s family and the psychic to fill in the blanks. There were fewer instance of “why the hell are they recording that?” as a result.

Mikey: Although they did include a few heated arguments over whether filming should be happening, which always feels like a waste of time. If they skipped that and just filmed anyway, it’s not like audiences would be screaming “ah c’mon, you shouldn’t be filming!” (yet it’s something I like to note about found footage anyway). The documentary thing is great because it makes it more real. There’s no real situation where you would get an edited-together collection of footage from a dead person, but a documentary explains it and gives you that sort of outside voice to it which adds an air of authority. The found footage in this case comes from a kid who is a YouTube star for making videos of himself attempting various ‘ghost summoning rituals’ and filming the (lack of) results. What do you think about that?

Solee: I think it felt very realistic. Even the fact that he doesn’t really believe it and he never gets any proof but he still keeps putting the videos out there and people keep watching them all felt real to me. I’m sure I could go on YouTube right now and find a dozen people doing just that who are making actual money at it. The world is a very strange place.

Mikey: I just typed “ghost summoning ritual” into YouTube (which it autocompleted for me, even), and there are a whole pile of videos, some of which have over 5 million views.

Solee: Dude. We are in the WRONG business. I thought it was interesting that this movie gave us not one, but TWO different rituals to try. Not that it told us to try them, but COME ON, MICHAEL. Lots of people who watch this movie are going to try these rituals, right?

Mikey: Sorry, got distracted reading the blurbs on these. Wow, they’re dumb. I’m sure people will, though the fact that I couldn’t find the movie on Metacritic, and it only has user reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, and only 6 reviews on IMDB, suggests that we don’t have to worry about too many people doing that. Good thing, because we don’t want to summon The Butcher!

Solee: I’ve heard that my old high school, which was recently replaced by a fancy new high school thanks to some bad flooding a couple of years ago, is haunted. Maybe we could make our own YouTube channel!

Mikey: Seems too late if they replaced it. The ghosts were in the boards they threw away.

Solee: By replaced, I meant they built a new one in a different place and now the kids go there. The old one is still sitting there, full of mildew and ghosts!

Mikey: OOOOH!!!

Solee: Anyway. The kids in the movie each signed their name and added a drop of their own blood (with the notable exception of Tara, the sole survivor) for the ritual. As I was watching, I felt a definite difference in my reaction to that (Oh, guys, that’s NOT a good idea) compared to my reaction to his first ritual with the drowned doll and the rice (This is silly). You are much more skeptical and less superstitious than I am. Did you feel differently about the two rituals? Or did they have the same “power” to you?

Mikey: Well, I think there’s always a part of you that is like NOPE when somebody says to sign your name in blood (or drop of blood next to it, as in this case!). I mean it is a little unsanitary, I didn’t see anybody sterilizing that thumbtack. But it sorta gets you, it does feel like there’s something dangerous about it, with the candle and the words and all. It’s silly, and I’m 100% certain that both rituals would be equally effective in real life, but also toward the end of the movie when Chris is saying “I didn’t mean for any of this to happen!” you sort of automatically go “Yeah you did, what did you expect to happen?” It made me think how I would never do a ritual like that. I know it wouldn’t do anything, yet I still wouldn’t do it, and not just because it’s dumb, but because there’s always that sort of in-built superstition that if the point of the ritual is to summon a demon, why on earth would you try in the first place? On the other hand, I felt about the same about his first ritual too.

Solee: That was one of my big notes for the movie. He says he didn’t want anything to happen … but that’s not true. He desperately wanted something to happen. Even during the worst of it, he was recording. He told the girls it was for “anyone who finds this” but in his heart of hearts, he believed he was invincible and he’d have a story that would make him famous. That’s how kids that age think, in terms of invincibility and fame. I’m sure he didn’t want his friends to die, but he didn’t think that far ahead. He didn’t think about what it would mean if it were true. He just went on ahead. The only one who survived is the one who DID kind of believe, which ultimately saved her. Sort of.

Mikey: I liked how they did that, it was actually pretty subtle, how he’d be talking to the camera and describing the situation and somebody would be like “seriously, the show is over, stop it”, and I didn’t even realize he was ‘making a show’ until they said it, because I’m watching the show and trying to get info. Although I would like to point out that none of them signed their names, they all just printed them. Pretty weak. They were probably afraid of a real demon.

Solee: The actors, you mean? There was a whole green room discussion about how the script called for them to sign and they were all “HECK NO.” I like that idea.

Mikey: They were just super happy they got to use fake blood instead of real, since they heard the psychic discuss the danger.

Solee: All part of the negotiations of working on a horror film! So … let’s talk about the actual story for a bit. The ghost story behind this movie. It feels super weak to me. Sure, there were lots of scary bits where the camera is flailing around and the gaggle of girls are screaming, but I don’t feel like I understand the Butcher or anything about his motivation. The psychic could have given us a lot more information about that.

Mikey: Yes, they made a point of how the Butcher ritual was some random thing he found on the Deep Web (and that, scariest of all, the producers couldn’t find it themselves OH NO MUST BE A GHOST WEB SITE!!!), which meant that there was absolutely zero lore attached to the ghost. That could’ve easily been fixed by simply making it “this is a ritual that summons Jane Doe, who died at this house at XYZ street!” And we could learn about Jane murdering her family and whatnot. Because that was another issue I had - they picked the house they did because it was spooky. There was literally no history to the house or anything, just “wouldn’t it be scary to do this here?” On the one hand, I appreciate the ‘realism’ of that: ghosts/demons aren’t tied to a location, they are in the netherworld and can come through anywhere. But on the other hand, that’s a whole layer of lore that would improve the movie.

Solee: Yep. As much as I liked how the found footage was handled, the movie overall was disappointing. It was all flash and no actual substance. Which is a shame because I thought the movie was skillfully put together and I thought the actors did a nice job. It could have been so much more with a little bump to the writing.

Mikey: It did feel like it was “what would be scary?” rather than “this is the story we want to tell.” Which is not the right way to make a movie. Although I think it’s how they make Paranormal Activity movies! Speaking of, scary?

Solee: Not really. I did realize the long seconds of nothing happening while someone pants into the microphone gets my heart racing every time, but other than that, it wasn’t scary. They even had one instance of Paranormal Activity-like rearranging of furniture, but because there were, like, five minutes between times when we saw that room it was too easy to picture one of them doing it. Or imagine the props guys rushing in to reset the scene with everything upside down. The brilliance of PA is that all the cabinet doors open when you glance away for a couple seconds. I did have one jump scare but it wasn’t because it was scary … just unexpected. What did you think? Scary?

Mikey: I think it would have been much easier to fear if it were late at night with all the lights off. We watched in the morning with way too much sun streaming in, and that really killed the vibe. There was potential here, with the quiet creepy room and then something banging somewhere. I can’t quite tell if it was poorly executed or just the sunny morning viewing that ruined that. Also the dogs were in there watching with us, and they are noisy and distracting. I will point out that they didn’t seem to be scared though.

Solee: I don’t think it was the light. We’ve watched a lot of these movies in daylight and I’ve been scared. This one just didn’t quite do it for me. Maybe it was the light for you, though. Anyway, are you ready to rate?

Mikey: You calling me a baby!? Fine, I will rate this movie. One thing I haven’t mentioned is that I viscerally disliked the psychic lady, and I don’t think I can explain why. Something smarmy about her. But overall, I would like to give this movie a 2 out of 5. It was not too bad for a bad movie, but it was definitely not a good movie. How do you feel?

Solee: What I’m learning about myself right this second is that I have a strong preference for a bad movie with a good story over a goodish movie with a lame story. I’m also going to give this a 2. It just wasn’t interesting enough to be worth the watch, even though it was pretty well done.

Mikey: Okay then. HOLY CRAP A REAL JUMP SCARE.

Solee: I heard it too. You know what really adds to the atmosphere while watching horror movies? The CONSTANT smacking of birds into our windows this fall. NOT COOL, BIRDS.

Mikey: I’m worried about this one. There is a feather left on the window :(. But I’ll assume he’s just stunned.

Solee: I’m sure that’s correct. I am starting to wonder what kind of curse was put on our house last winter though. We’ve had swarms of mosquitoes coming down the chimney … and now the bird … Maybe we need an exorcist?

Mikey: Oh the mosquito invasion was worse than any horror movie. Speaking of those, what is the next one we are watching?

Solee: I have decided that we should watch a witch movie. But I abdicated selection responsibility to you.

Mikey: In that case, I am setting us up with a winner: Mark of the Witch (2014, AKA Another).
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