Warner Bros. // 2006 // 94 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Adam Arseneau (Retired) // May 13th, 2008
And you thought you were unlucky?
What do you get when you combine a slasher film with a comedy? Oh, and a heist caper...and maybe the Three Stooges? Yeah, beats me, too. Whatever you want to call it, welcome to Botched.
Ritchie (Stephen Dorff, World Trade Center) is a thief whose recent string of bad luck lands him in hot water with his mob boss. Given one final chance to redeem himself, he is flown out to Moscow to break into an office building and steal a valuable Russian heirloom from its owners. Teaming up with two local thugs, Ritchie pulls off the job, but the trio soon lands in over their head as his cohorts get trigger happy and take hostages. With security closing in, Ritchie is forced to escape into the building, prisoners in tow.
Unbeknownst to the thieves and their band of hostages, the elevator has stopped on the thirteenth floor; one seemingly abandoned but littered with odd things, like dead bodies and skinned corpses, things one would normally not expect to see in your average office building. Surprise, surprise: the family that owns the building believes itself to be long-lost descendants of the great Ivan the Terrible and behind closed doors reenacts violent rituals of murder, mayhem, and mischief to satisfy primal urges.
It seems a whole group of new playthings have arrived to entertain them! Let the games begin!
Botched has the comedic styling of a Stanley Long film minus the naked people. Think about that for a moment, and you will realize where the terror in this film comes from -- it sure ain't from the dismembered body parts. A disjointed and freakish horror comedy with more slapstick than scares, Botched defies convention in part because most films have more sense than to try and marry so many conflicting genres into a single production.
Some films are more than the sum of their parts. With Botched, there are so many parts sewn haphazardly together in Frankenstein-esque glee that the finish project is incomprehensibly bewildering. Oh sure, there are some good slasher-film moments, some nice bits of decapitations and dismemberments to boil the blood of horror fans, but there are also equal parts deconstructive humor, fart jokes, Guy Ritchie-style capers, and Benny Hill-inspired chase sequences that might as well be set to a kazoo...but why exactly was it a good idea to put all these elements together? Clearly, the creators are trying to riff off that nice little Sam Raimi-esque horror/comedy genre popularized as of late by films like Severance and Shaun Of The Dead (which the packaging picks up on and compares Botched to). The problem with this comparison is that both those films actually achieve what they set out to do -- be scary and funny at the same time. With Botched, the two are mutually exclusive, often painfully so.
The film is not without its noteworthy sequences, and it is a shame one cannot judge a film like Botched on the merit of its many ideas crammed into a small package. A mad descendent of Ivan the Terrible locking up people in an office building, pirouetting around like a dancer wielding a broadsword listening to disco music? This is a very good idea. Such flashes of inspired brilliance dot the landscape when watching Botched, enough to keep one's interest up, but it all adds up to naught in the end. As a finished project, Botched is far too disjointed and schizophrenic to be anything but a blip on the comedic landscape.
The cast does the best it can with the limited material, but most characters are simple caricatures of screaming horror film victims and bumbling post-Soviet buffoons, donning faux-Russian accents and putting on their best Yakov Smirnoff impressions. Dorff makes a good straight man, but he's almost too straight for this offbeat comedy -- he is too dour and sullen to be any comedic use. Jaime Murray (Hustle) pretty much does what she always does -- stands around and looks hot. This she does well.
The kindest thing one can say about Botched is that it is disbelievingly funny. One cannot help but be overcome with comedic disbelief at the sequences of catastrophic disaster of events after catastrophic disaster befalling the hapless thieves and their unlucky hostages. The film is so disjointed and confusingly random and bizarre that it almost works simply because no film has ever tried to cram this much ridiculousness into a single production before. Calling it a simple comedy of errors would be an understatement; this is a full-on opera of insanity.
The technical presentation is adequate considering the film's relatively small budget, presented in a nice clean anamorphic transfer. Colors are nicely muted into steely earth tones and silvery blues, with an adequate black level, although some grain is evident from time to time. The audio comes in a no-frills 5.1 Surround presentation, with clear center-driven dialogue, a jaunty score that swings from pounding drums to carnival-style accordion-driven tunes, all with moderate bass response.
There are no extras of any kind to speak of. This one is as bare-boned as they come, without even a trailer.
Botched at times plays like a slasher film by way of Monty Python. Sadly, the execution is all wrong, but this court would not be opposed to seeing this tried again in other films. Some combinations are just too good to not be realized -- like nuts and gum. Yum.
A head-scratching collision of genres wadded up like a ball of mismatched socks, Botched is quirky enough to warrant a rental from the terminally bored, but too scattered and disjointed to be noteworthy for the masses.
Botched is let off with a reduced sentence from this court. We give bonus points for good solid efforts, and we never much cared for films making sense anyway.
Review content copyright © 2008 Adam Arseneau; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated