A beautiful-yet-deadly former mercenary kidnaps an adolescent boy in an attempt to mould him into her dream partner in the thriller The Abduction of Zach Butterfield. Review after the jump.
From director Rick Lancaster, The Abduction of Zach Butterfield is a low budget thriller where a female soldier called April (Brett Halsham) comes back from tours of Iraq and Afghanistan to stalk and then kidnap a fourteen-year old boy. She keeps him hostage as her slave in a remote house and places a necklace on him that apparently contains the C4 explosive. Should he breach the perimeter of the house, his head will apparently be blown off.
April then tries to turn Zach into her perfect man and we get some sort of deranged paedophile Beauty and the Beast story but with the roles reversed. It’s okay though as we have a bumbling sheriff and two inept FBI agents on the case.
The plot to The Abduction of Zach Butterfield is actually not bad. We have sort of seen ideas like this before, take Hard Candy as an example, yet it is interesting to hear that the abductor/kiddie fiddler is female. The problem lies with the execution.
You’d expect, with the dark subject matter, the film would be shot like a David Fincher movie or in the same vein as say The Silence of the Lambs, yet The Abduction of Zach Butterfield is lit and shot as if it were a comedy. The use of angles and the performances also make the production look like a made-for-TV-movie, which is, I doubt, something that the film makers were trying to avoid.
Talking about performances, whilst the actors in the main roles aren’t totally terrible, they aren’t convincing as both a deadly female commando, nor a high school jock and all round sportsman either.
As the characters actually get to know each other, we end up watching some tedious sex scenes where the camera tilts down to the bedroom floor and we see pieces of clothing flying into shot. It actually reminded me of the scene in The Truman Show where the two security guards are talking about the lack of rumpy pumpy action – “You never see anything anyway…They always uh…turn the camera, and…play music and…you know, the wind blows and then the curtain moves, you don’t see anything.”
If the guys behind The Abduction of Zack Butterfield managed to sieve through all the footage and cut the film down to around the 20 minute mark, I believe they would have an okay short film, but coming in close to 90 minutes, you are instantly going to come under scrutiny, and unfortunately the movie does compare well with the bigger boys like this year’s Gone Girl. Both are thrillers where someone goes missing, yet one is dark and moody, whilst the other is bright and cheery.
If more time had been used to work on the screenplay and in pre-production to get the right look for the film, I believe Rick and co could have turned heads. Sadly, it wasn’t to be.