DIRECTOR: Brian Goodman
Jonathan Rhys Meyers
While a small mountain town is grappling with a series of abductions and murders. Paul is a reclusive writer and recovering alcoholic. After the death of his wife, he is holding up in this rural cabin in hopes of writing a screenplay that will put his career back on track. When a drifter helps him during an altercation at a roadside diner, he offers to give him a place to stay and help around the cabin. Soon things start getting strange when the drifter shows signs of paranoia.
I went into Black Butterfly completely blind. The only thing about the movie that had caught my eye was the poster art for the film. Going off the poster, I was aware that Antonio Banderas was headlining the film and Jonathan Rhys Meyers was also starring in the movie. The poster also felt very reminiscent of Mike Flanagan's moody, familial, supernatural fable, Before I Wake. The use of the entire butterfly motif and the blood had me very intrigued to give this one a watch.
After watching Black Butterfly, I was torn on my viewing experience. I waited almost a week to write my review for the film because I wasn't sure how I felt about it. Right after the movie had wrapped up, I was on the fence still. As the week had gone on, I decided an above average review for the film felt acceptable. While this movie has its fair share of problems. I think the third acts first twist alone, pushes it just over the line and into positive territory.
Early on in Black Butterfly, I thought I was pretty on the ball with where this movie was heading. While watching the movie, I even had one of those moments where I shouted at the television and stated that I knew exactly what the twist was going to be in the movie. It turns out that I was actually right for once. I did end up guessing exactly what the twist was going to be. But here is where I have to give the movie a few points. I had guessed the third of three reveals in the final act.
The movie contains a really solid second reveal that completely blindsided me. I was so wrapped up in what would come to be the third twist that I didn't see the second one coming. It's a twist that I don't ever remember seeing in another movie. Here it felt entirely fresh and original. While the most solid twist in the film is book-ended by two twists that have been done before. I was still completely blown away by it. This for me was enough to win me over after sitting on the film for a week.
The rest of Black Butterfly sits somewhere between a hostage/captive film and a slow burn psychological thriller. The movie doesn't really start to pick up the pace until we see Jonathan Rhys Meyers character start to descend into this paranoid drifter who I believed may be responsible for all the abductions and murders. Once we get to his character starting to show signs of a darker nature, this is where I thought the movie really picked up speed. The first act of the film is rather slow. Once we get past the earlier scenes, the film is pretty fun.
The entire time that I was watching this movie. I kept thinking to myself how closely this resembled the Stephen King film adaptation Secret Window. A lot of the stuff in this movie felt very similar to that film. Sadly, just not as well acted as that movie. I thought the rural cabin, the reclusive writer who is trying to write his next novel or screenplay. Even one of the twists here felt very similar to Secret Window. It's also the twist that sort of diminishes the impact of the first and second twist in the film. It's a case of seen it all before.
When it comes to the thrills in this movie. I didn't find Black Butterfly all that thrilling. A lot of times in the movie when they try to build suspense. It feels like they go and ruin it with lots of silly character decisions. This clearly falls back on the screenplay. It just seems redundant to build up the suspense and throw in characters being run off the road or tripping over while they are trying to make an escape. They kill it as fast as they try to build it. Doing this also seems to hurt the final twist which makes me wonder how bad of a writer Antonio Banderas character is in the film.
Lastly, we come to the acting. Antonio Banderas is fine in his role. He does losing his mind well enough. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is his usual self. The guy always looks really creepy in movies. Like, serial killer creepy. He has a habit of not blinking, and it works for his character in Black Butterfly. Piper Perabo is completely wasted in this film. She is barely in it. She comes back towards the third act, but I felt that she was seriously underused here. This is the Antonio and Jonathan show, so it's understandable, but I'd have like to see more of her as she's a pretty fun actress to watch.
DEATH TOLL: 2
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A woman is taken and presumed murders while on a picnic.
- A man is smacked in the face with a rifle handle.
- A man is stabbed in the back with scissors.
- A woman is seen lying on the floor while bleeding from her head.
Black Butterfly all hangs on the three twists, and for me, it worked well enough. The second of three twists knocked me for a six. I didn't see it coming at all, and for that, I think it deserves a couple of points. While not thrilling or psychologically damaging, I still think once we start to see cracks in Jonathan Rhys Meyers drifter, it's where the movie picks up the pace. The acting, for the most part, is great and while similar to Secret Window, I think this movie is worth a once off watch.