If you’re told not to imagine something, does that something briefly flash in your head before you perish the thought? Let’s say I tell you to imagine an elephant. You see the elephant, then you unsee the elephant. Or, say, it’s Halloween and you stick your hand into a bowl of grapes marked “eyeballs.” For just a second, your brain tricks you into being grossed out. Sometimes you can’t put your hand back in; the idea sits there, festers and stops you from rational perception.
Cut and Chop is an independent horror movie about a struggling actor named Tom (Drew Hale, who also wrote and produced the film), whose preparations for a role leave an unshakable thought in his head — a bloodlust that leads to tragic consequences. And blood. Lots of blood.
Like a lot of independent horror, Cut and Chop focuses on a few visceral ideas but lets its story fall to the wayside. It’s impressive but not exactly engaging. Hale understands how to shoot meat — living or dead, human or otherwise — in a visceral way. His gore and gross-out bits land. His humans are shot in an amped0up, hungry way. Some of it is certainly reminiscent of other sex-plus-cannibalism movies and TV shows, but it’s hard to whine about genuinely good craftsmanship being “derivative” and this is certainly well produced. It’s light on tension and suspense, heavy on gore and energy. Balancing the two is difficult; choosing one and running with it is a solid choice Hale makes, and in the end it works out for the film.
That being said: If you don’t have a stomach for gore, Cut and Chop has little to offer. It lacks a proper narrative arc and plotlines are dropped as if the intended finale was left on the cutting-room floor. Events build to an inevitable event and … it concludes. As with a lot of low-budget L.A. fare, the movie casts a satirical eye at the process of up-and-coming artists making their name and face known in the industry, but concluding on that dramatic note doesn’t retroactively buoy the preceding 90 minutes. It’s 45 minutes of intriguing setup followed by 45 minutes of gross-out goofiness without payoff for the first half.
Like I said previously: If you’re seeking a creatively edited low-budget gore pic, Cut and Chop is pretty impressive; just don’t come looking for a movie that will engage beyond blood-splatter spectacle.