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Chop: Disgusting, Unbelievable…Wow!

June 7, 2012

Trent Haaga, writer of 2008’s Deadgirl, makes his directorial debut with the hilarious, pitch black comedy Chop. Unpredictable, clever, and endlessly entertaining, Chop manages to avoid all of the clichés as it delivers shocks and laughs in equal portions. The script, from writer/actor/ director Adam Minarovich (Ed Peletier in The Walking Dead), is a powerhouse of wit, dark humor, and intensity that never loses its nerve nor its momentum.

Main character Lance, Will Keenan of Tromeo and Juliet and Terror Firmer, is living a seemingly normal life until he is abducted by a mysterious, all-knowing stranger. Apparently, the stranger has been wronged by Lance and is seeking retribution. But when Lance fails to satisfy the stranger’s unnatural desires, a game of “cat and mouse” ensues.

But the mouse has little chance of winning this game. As Lance finds himself minus more and more of his body parts, his world quickly descends into one of paranoia and fear. Keenan plays all of this with mastery, maintaining a sense of the real while delivering comic brilliance with line after line. It is a tribute to the script as well as the actor that the dialogue never seems fake, the comedy never forced.

Early on, the stranger calls Lance to inform him that he has broken their deal. Lance, in a panic, pleads his innocence. “Do you think I’m stupid?” the stranger yells. “No, I think your psychotic,” Lance replies. Lance’s lack of filter with the man brutally torturing him is what makes Chop special. There is an emotional relationship forming between these two men, one that somehow manages to foster respect and, oddly enough, admiration between them.

Later, when the police arrive at Lance’s door and inform him that his half-brother, Bobby, has been found with an ax in his head, Lance feigns shock and horror when he says, “that is…disgusting…and…unbelievable. Wow! I guess that’s that then.” There is so much to love here, and Keenan is awesome as the loveable loser who, in order for the film to work, must win our sympathies. So that when his leg is violently chopped off and he screams, “I don’t really feel it, but that looks horrible,” we can laugh along with him instead of cowering from the horror.

Revealing specific plot details would surely ruin the unique experience that is Chop. This is the rare, low budget, obscure film that will remind everyone why we love the darker side of film. And by the end, when the stranger says to Lance, “you’ve lost all your fight,” I felt both relief and disappointment when Lance replies, “yea, I’m about ready to go now.”

Trust me, you won’t be.

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