BY: DAKOTA DAHL
Starring Atala Arce, Jake Taylor and David Harper
Written by Rony Patel and Andrew Ericksen
Directed by Rony Patel
Fairwolf Productions/Kamikaze Dogfight
If you’ve ever had bizarre, intrusive thoughts about what a Guy Ritchie film about serial killers with teleportation powers would look like, look no further than Rony Patel’s directorial debut CHOP CHOP. In less talented hands, a couple trying to dispose of the body of a home intruder, all while running afoul of increasingly hostile and bizarre characters, might be tedious. Against all odds, Patel makes it work, blending together over the top caricatures with black comedy for a a charming and mysterious crime thriller.
Liv and Chuck (Atala Arce and Jake Taylor) are enjoying date night, having looked forward to it all day. Things are interrupted when a creepy weirdo (David Harper, Under the Silver Lake) attempts to deliver a pizza that they didn’t order. After being politely yet firmly rebuffed by Liv, she finds that the creep is now, somehow, impossibly, already in her home. After a struggle, the couple kill the intruder, which should be the end of the movie, since calling the cops after bludgeoning a home invader should be a piece of cake. But here’s where things get sticky, since the couple seem to have a secret which they want to keep and fear the prying eyes of police. Naturally, they chop the home invader into neatly stackable parts and attempt to get rid of all traces of him.
From here, things go straight up cuckoo banana pants, since a detective who was tracking the home invader (who, it turns out, was a serial killer) now believes that Chuck is the culprit. From there, CHOP CHOP unfolds in a series of violent mistakes, with the couple repeatedly burning bridges they haven’t even attempted crossing yet. The whole charm of the movie is watching them try to squirm out of a snowballing scenario and the detestable villains they meet along the way, so it’s hard to describe more without robbing viewers of the experience. But here are few carrots: there’s a sexually aggressive arms dealer who’s big on explosions, a body disposal guy who does most of his business in a bathrobe, and the mute twin brother of the serial killer, for starters. It’s all a lot of fun.
The dialogue is a big part of CHOP CHOP’s appeal and pretty much carries the entire film, which relies very little on spectacle. While the monologues, threats, and jokes are all written incredibly well, sometimes the lines prove difficult for the actors to deliver with maximum punchiness. Still, every actor is passable enough that the film is absolutely worth watching.
The soundtrack pops, bringing a level up upbeatness with plucky cello notes that help drive home the dark punchlines. The music helps keep the film grounded as a lighter crime comedy instead of a grim thriller. This lightness helps pull attention away from the lack of violence, gore and visuals, keeping the film out of the cheap, cash grab category.
The film is fun and weird, with levels of mystery that evolve and resolve throughout the whole run time, making it easy to watch from start to finish without getting bored. In fact, you’ll probably stick around to the ending to see if the serial killer’s ability to walk through walls is ever addressed or explained. Audiences are lucky that Kamizake Dogfight brings weird little films like CHOP CHOP out into the world, because on paper, it sounds fucked, but in execution, it’s super fucked.
CHOP CHOP hits VOD on October 20th.