BUDDY HUTCHINS (2015)

BH106In one of those Batman graphic novels, the exact title escapes me, the Joker tries to show Batman or Commissioner Gordon or someone how all it takes to turn a decent, ordinary guy into someone as batshit crazy as The Joker is if he has One Bad Day, presumably to lend some justification to his own evil insane actions.

It’s a compelling, if dreadful notion: that our thin veneer of civilisation could erode through circumstance, pushing us into committing terrible acts. Thankfully, if the news reports are anything to go by, the instances are few and far between. And movies like DEATH WISH, FALLING DOWN and GOD BLESS AMERICA explore this as wish fulfilment fantasies, allowing us to identify with those who finally get revenge on the people and things in life that piss us off. Jared Cohn’s BUDDY HUTCHINS joins that list.

It opens with a battered, bloodied guy on a kitchen floor, as SWAT guys converge around the house and plead for him to come out before things get worse. The man on the floor, Buddy (Jamie Kennedy, SCREAM, THE SPECIALS), reacts with disbelief at what has happened to him.

On top of everything else, he's still getting Verizon calls...

On top of everything else, he’s still getting Verizon calls…

Then we flashback 60 days, with Buddy coming to his dinner table to find his children ignoring him and his wife Evelyn (Sara Malakul Lane) dismissive, refusing to accompany him to his visit his mother Bertha (Sally Kirkland, SUBURBAN GOTHIC). His dry cleaning business is failing, but his more successful gay brother Troy (Steve Hanks, #HOLDYOURBREATH) lends him some money, while urging him not to fall off the wagon, having stayed sober for over a year.

Troy attends the dinner with their mother, though Bertha remains critical of his lifestyle and Troy’s boyfriend is a rude prick. Also, Buddy’s daughter inadvertently drops hints that make Buddy suspect his wife is having an affair. So far, so soap opera.

"Go on, ask me again about SON OF THE MASK! I dare ya!"

“Go on, ask me again about SON OF THE MASK! I dare ya!”

Obsessed with his suspicions, he watches and confronts his wife with her lover, hitting the latter and getting himself arrested. His business worsens and his employees leave when they don’t get paid. His wife won’t let him back into the house to get his things. The bank seizes his business and locks him out, while his customers badger him outside to get their clothes back. After a disastrous dinner with his family Buddy starts drinking again and returns to his home, angrily punching his son in the face and getting into further trouble with the law. His mother gets seriously ill after being harassed by a bounty hunter looking for Buddy, and he learns that the man he thought of as his father was really his uncle.

Finally, when his ex-wife’s new boyfriend comes round looking for alimony and threatens Buddy, Buddy finally snaps and kills him by smashing his prized guitar across his head and tying up his ex-wife. When a cop comes round because of the disturbance, Buddy ends up killing him too. And he’s just getting started…

Excedrin Headache #Infinity

Excedrin Headache #Infinity

BUDDY HUTCHINS reminded me of Michael Douglas’ Nineties film FALLING DOWN, in that both movies detail an ordinary man’s descent into violence and self-destruction due to forces beyond his control. And for the first half of the movie, star Jamie Kennedy manages to achieve some sympathy. He does come across as someone desperately trying to be good and hold it together, and is a thousand miles away from the usual asshole character he prefers playing. He’s no saint, and is known to have a short temper from the very start, but he’s trying his best. And to its credit the movie doesn’t try to show how all the bad things happen to him in one day, but instead is a gradual erosion of his temper and patience.

I've heard of Air Guitar, but Styrofoam?

I’ve heard of Air Guitar, but Styrofoam?

But then the second half gets preposterous, and as Buddy starts killing more and more people, in particular folk who don’t deserve it, the sympathy Buddy’s character might have generated burns away quickly. There’s also a cheap ineptitude throughout the film. Despite the lurid poster, Buddy’s chainsaw kills are few and relatively tasteful. Cohn actually filmed much of it around his own home. During Buddy’s divorce trial, the court sports a California flag but a Nevada state seal. When Buddy kills his ex-wife’s boyfriend with a guitar, the guitar turns out to be made of styrofoam, and a close-up of the body confirms it. And the ending is utterly ludicrous, though good manners insist I don’t spoil it.

Written and directed by Jared Cohn, who has helmed a number of Asylum movies like ATLANTIC RIM, BUDDY HUTCHINS could have been far more than what we got. It’s available on DVD and VOD, and the trailer is below.

Deggsy’s Summary:

Director: Jared Cohn (also writer)

Plot: 3 out of 5 stars

Gore: 2 out of 10 skulls

Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains

Reviewed by Deggsy. Falling Down. A bottle of whiskey will do that to you.

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