Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Looking at director Ethan Wiley’s filmography it would appear that every ten years or so Mr. Wiley convinces someone to let him direct a film.  In 1987 he directs a sequel to the movie ‘House’ cleverly called ‘House II – the second story’.  Get it?  In 1998 he directs a fifth ‘Children of the Corn’ movie and now in 2007 he has convinced someone to front some loot so he could write and direct this little direct to video horror movie ‘Brutal’.  I can’t rightfully comment on those two previous films since I haven’t seen them but I can comment on ‘Brutal’ which probably isn’t the best title for a movie since I’m sure many a reviewer will say stuff like ‘Is that the title or the feeling one get’s watching this garbage’.  I am not going to insult you with comments like that people, and if you recognize ‘Brutal’ as more of a tongue in cheek slasher as opposed to an outright horror fest, it’s not so bad. 

Our film takes place somewhere in Podunkville middle America where all the streets are named after flowers.  This little nugget of info is extremely relevant to our plot.  In a setup that has so many holes that it’s not even worth going over, a slutty girls car breaks down and she takes an ill-advised ride from one Mr. Evan (Eric Lange) who we later find out is the fifth grade middle school teacher.  Evan lets her out of the car but this slut tricks Evan into touching her titty and then threatens him with legal action unless he turns over all of his money.  Slut.  The next little bit is equally as implausible but we we’ll go ahead and buy it because that’s what we do, so the slut wanders in a barn, to get the money, a barn that Evan has stashed a set of power tools at, and then he power drills the sluts spine and all other sort of ‘Brutal’ nastiness. 

The next morning the authorities are called to the scene led by sexy deputy Zoe (Sarah Thompson) who works in a town that can’t afford a deputies uniform that fits.  Soon

Zoe’s boss / lover, the married Sheriff Jimmy Fleck (Re-animator’s own Jeffrey Combs), shows up and both have deductively deduced, considering the dismembered body in the trash can, that they have a murder on their hands.  Also on hand is busy body reporter Rick (William Sanford) who has a deep jones for Zoe, but Zoe has eyes only for Sheriff Jimmy.  She even camps out in front of his house and watches him play around with his wife and kids.  Girlfriend has issues.  Meanwhile, Evan the school teacher’s reign of terror continues as he slashes up young lovers, a pair of tonguing lesbians and has designs for so much more.  Zoe thinks she’s figured out the killer’s pattern but Sheriff Jimmy is incompetent to a fault, not to mention Zoe is an INCREDIBLY needy mistress thus further distracting Jimmy from this serial killer in his town, this being an election year and all.  It would seem the killer has sized up his next victim, and damn if it ain’t the sexy deputy in the way too tight uniform.  The only question that is left is can our heroes save the home wrecking deputy before she suffers her demise at the hands of our ‘Brutal’ school teacher?  

I realize the statement ‘I’ve seen worse’ doesn’t qualify as any kind of decent criticism for this or any film, but I’ve seen worse.  Director Wiley really tried to live up to the title and amped up the gore factor to as high a level as I’m sure his relatively meager budget would allow.  Besides, Wiley doesn’t even play this thing close to straight as is plainly evident through a lot of the wacky dialog, completely ridiculous situations and the presence of one Michael Berryman.  If you don’t know the name you certainly know the face, with My Berryman playing a obsessive compulsive dog tracker who helps Zoe crack the case, and to great effect.  Add to that a killer who is a philosophy spouting milktoast of a man who I’m guessing will easily be stopped by a single bullet to the knee as opposed to being a Michael Myers type, and with ‘Brutal’ at least you have a slightly different kind of horror film.

Not to say that ‘Brutal’ is great or anything.  It really gets sidetracked with the whole sheriff / deputy affair thing, and there are huge lapses in logic and more than one cliché standard that our filmmakers lean on.  Not to mention that you’d think I’ve been on the planet long enough to witness lesbians act in real life JUST ONE TIME like they act in the movies. That is being super hot, fondling each other in public and motioning you to join them.  Never seen that happen once.

All in all, I’ve seen worse.  Jeffrey Combs does what he does to damn near perfection and Sarah Thompson looks swell in clothes that don’t fit and is just your average long legged 22 year old super hot sheriffs deputy saddled with solving a set of serial murders that probably should be handled by the FBI.  Like I’ve said, I’ve seen worse.

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