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Tonight I discovered that I can watch YouTube and Netflix on the cardio equipment at the gym.

I don’t know how many episodes of Star Trek I will watch in the coming months, but I can bet it’s going to be a lot.

Brutal

The marketing copy reads “Hostel meets Silence of the Lambs"…

This film started out a promising slasher, devolved into a complete gratuitous shit show, and then redeemed itself kind of well. I haven’t seen Hostel, but there were some pretty spectacular (and not in a cheesy fake way) gore moments, especially in the beginning, so I imagine that part of the claim is true. There is an acceptable level of gore: not too much, but enough interspersed throughout the film to keep it interesting.

I have a huge problem with this film. The problem is that—from the start—this move seems to be written by men, for men. And I mean, like, stereotypical men, the male gaze, and all that shit. The female characters are incredibly shallowly written and oversexualized. The lead female perhaps not as much as the others, but it’s still there. Now, it seems the killer’s motivation for selecting his victims is based on their blatant displays of sexuality. Which would be fine, makes perfect sense as a serial killer’s motive. Except the camera lovingly pans across every female’s body who gets killed. The women are very much after sex, even when it is unnecessary to the plot—it’s obvious it was all just written as an excuse to titillate the stereotypical male’s senses. There’s even a lesbian couple—and I mean like a porn lesbian couple whose sole purpose in existing in this film is to put on a show for the men. None of these characters’ motivations for their actions seem believable by any stretch of the imagination.

The main female character is treated with slightly more care, but her place in the film isn’t very solid. She spends half the film playing a lovesick schoolgirl, basically, and the other half playing a book-smart-but-not-good-at-her-job deputy. Most of her actions in the film are driven by the male characters around her. I think she makes one actual decision for herself, and that actually turned out to be a pretty good part of the film.

The minor male characters were forgettable. The serial killer was interesting in that we saw so little of his motivations until the end, but he was also rather forgettable. Two performances really stuck with me. I’ll bet you can guess what one of them was.

The first was Michael Berryman, who played an autistic man with some OCD issues. He trains bloodhounds, and the female character asks for his help in solving the case. He really brought that character to life and made him sympathetic to the audience. I found myself wanting to hug dear Leroy. Berryman infused Leroy with an intelligence and a soul that was incredibly refreshing in this film. A+ performance.

And then, there was Jeffrey Combs. Whose character—and I’m going to say this out straight—is everything that is wrong and low and pitiful and weak about the human race. Honestly, I think his part was the best-written in the film. Which makes sense, if it is a movie by men for men. He gets the younger woman, while still married to his not-as-hot wife, and he has to deal with the implications of that affair while still trying to be the hero and solve the murders while putting on a good face for the press because hey! it’s reelection time, and Sheriff Jimmy wants another term. He is weak and spiteful and petty and downright nasty at times, and at the same time just a normal fucking guy living a normal fucking life who maybe made some bad choices. There are moments when I really did sympathize with Sheriff Jimmy, and then he took those moments and shattered them. He is not the scum of the earth like Andy Coberman, and that’s what makes his character all the more disgusting to me. There are a lot of guys like Sheriff Jimmy. Jeffrey did an amazing job. The motivations behind his character’s actions were clear and understandable—relatable, even if I didn’t agree with them. Sheriff Jimmy turns out to be a bad guy, but not in a “bad guy” sort of way. I appreciated the subtlety in Jeffrey’s performance.

So, Brutal: 1.5 out of 5 flaming feathers. The movie was in two different worlds, and they did not mesh. If it had been about the relationship between Sheriff Jimmy and his young deputy, with the serial killer as a secondary story, it would have made a pretty decent drama.

Entertainment value: 2 out of 5 happy smiles. There’s enough Jeffrey in this (actually a pretty substantial role) to pull it out of the dregs, for me.

Oh and the music SUCKED.

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