Review: ‘Chop Chop,’ starring Jake Taylor, Atala Arce, David Harper, Mikael Mattsson, Jeremy Jordan, James McCabe and Nicholas Correnti

October 30, 2020

by Carla Hay

Jake Taylor and Atale Arce in “Chop Chop” (Photo courtesy of Kamikaze Dogfight/Gravitas Ventures)

“Chop Chop”

Directed by Rony Patel

Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed U.S. city, the horror flick “Chop Chop” has almost all-white cast (with one Latina) representing the middle-class.

Culture Clash: A husband and a wife go on the run after they get involved in a killing spree.

Culture Audience: “Chop Chop” will appeal primarily to people who have the tolerance to watch any horror movie, no matter how terribly made it is.

David Harper in “Chop Chop” (Photo courtesy of Kamikaze Dogfight/Gravitas Ventures)

There are some movies that are so bad that they’re not just excruciating to watch. They’re also the types of movies that are so pointless and nonsensical that even describing them seems like a waste of time. The dreadfully dull and horribly acted “Chop Chop” is one of those movies.

“Chop Chop” is the feature-film debut of Rony Patel (who co-wrote the “Chop Chop” screenplay with Andrew Erickson), and it’s the kind of movie that’s so amateurish that it probably wouldn’t get a passing grade at a mediocre film school. There isn’t one single redeeming quality of “Chop Chop,” except the feeling of relief that it’s over by any viewers who’ve managed to stay awake to watch the movie from beginning to end.

“Chop Chop” is an extremely derivative horror movie that is neither scary nor suspenseful in any way, shape or form. The only reasons why it’s a horror movie are because of the bloody murders and because of the movie’s creepy characters, who are actually more annoying than fearsome. There are some horror flicks that are bad, but at least they’re entertaining because the filmmakers know the movie is bad and have fun with it anyway. “Chop Chop” doesn’t have this self-awareness.

The sloppily written story of “Chop Chop” essentially comes to down to this premise: A married couple named Chuck Matthews (played by Jake Taylor) and Olivia “Liv” Matthews (played by Atala Arce) are home at their apartment one night when an unexpected fateful encounter with a pizza delivery guy sends them on a badly conceived journey where people are kidnapped, assaulted and sometimes killed.

The movie is filled with long, awkward pauses between dialogue. All of the characters often stand around as if in a daze, move slowly, and do things that make no sense whatsoever. The pizza guy is hinted at being someone who’s sinister (he’s seen in the beginning of the movie carrying a plastic bag that seems to have a bloody head in it), but viewers never find out for sure what the pizza guy’s story is, because he dies in the beginning of the movie. In fact, no one in this movie has any backstory or real personality.

The death of the pizza guy, whose name is Teddy (played by David Harper), happens when he shows up unexpectedly one night at the apartment of Chuck and Olivia. When the doorbell rings, Chuck is on the toilet and listening to music on his headphones. Olivia answers the door and tells Teddy (who looks like he’s an Uncle Fester reject from the Addams Family) that they didn’t order any pizza.

As Olivia is about to shut the door, Teddy prevents her. At this point, most people in a situation like this would forcibly shut the door because it’s starting to look like a possible home invasion. But Olivia just stands there and stares at Teddy, while he says of the pizza box he’s holding in his hand, “It’s for you.”

Olivia finally manages to shut the door, but just seconds later, she sees Teddy on the living room couch, watching TV with the remote control in his hand. He gives her a sleazy smile and says, “I have abilities.” How did Freddy get in the apartment so quickly? Is he a supernatural being? “Chop Chop” is so dumb, it never answers those questions.

It isn’t long before Freddy has a meat cleaver in his hand and is about to attack Olivia, but she stabs him in the leg with a kitchen knife. Chuck comes out of the bathroom and overpowers Freddy and hits Freddy until the pizza guy is unconscious on the floor. Instead of calling 911, Chuck says, “God, I’m out of shape.”

And then, Chuck and Olivia talk about what just happened and still don’t call for help. If the movie had a campy or satirical tone, it might be easier to take. But the sense of humor in the film is almost non-existent. “Chop Chop” also has an out-of-place music score that sounds like it came from an obscure, cheesy detective movie from the 1970s.

It comes as no surprise that Freddy suddenly regains consciousness and is about to attack again while he’s lying on the floor. Olivia steps on Freddy’s neck, which kills him. While Chuck thinks that they should call the police, Olivia is completely against the idea. And then, “Chop Chop” takes the point of no return into the Garbage Dump of Irredeemably Bad Horror Movies. Chuck and Olivia, who could easily claim self-defense in this killing, decide not to call for help. Instead, they decide to dismember Freddy’s body in their shower.

Meanwhile, a plainclothes police officer named Detective Minaya (played by Jeremy Jordan, not to be confused with the Broadway/TV actor Jeremy Jordan) has been looking for the pizza guy, who is apparently suspected of murder. He has the pizza guy’s description and license plate number. Detective Minaya does not have a cop partner in this movie, not just because this low-budget film probably couldn’t afford to hire another actor, but mainly because this movie has too many other problems with its illogical plot.

Chuck and Olivia are suddenly seen in their car in a dark and empty outdoor parking lot. And who happens to roll up in his car and ask what they’re doing there? Detective Minaya, of course. Without giving away too much of this movie’s almost non-existent plot, Olivia ends up hitting Detective Minaya on the head with a tire iron, and Chuck and Olivia put him in the back of the trunk because the cop appears to be dead.

And so begins Chuck and Olivia’s outlaw life on the run, where they encounter more boring and stupid people just like them. Chuck calls a shady female friend named Rex (played by Natasha Missick) to help him and Olivia. Rex tells Chuck to pick up a package from a lowlife named Jeffrey (played by James McCabe), and then Chuck has to deliver the package somewhere else.

When Chuck arrives at Jeffrey’s scuzzy place, he’s followed around suspiciously by Jeffrey’s jealous boyfriend (played by Nicholas Correnti), who keeps asking Chuck: “You ain’t fucked my man, right?” While at Jeffrey’s place, Chuck meets someone named Butch (also played by Harper), who looks exactly like the pizza guy Teddy. (Butch and Teddy are supposed to be twins.)

Jeffrey describes Butch as “the best sword craftsman in the business.” It’s at this point that you know that Butch is going to pull out a sword at some point in the movie. But before that happens, Chuck leaves Jeffrey’s place with the “package,” which is really the size of a cologne box, because he has to deliver it to another sleazeball named Clark (played by Mikael Mattson), who lives on an isolated farm.

The movie doesn’t get any better, as it slogs from one tedious scene to the next. Even the violence in the movie is monotonous. In addition to the soulless acting, “Chop Chop” has nothing but cringeworthy dialogue. At one point, Chuck and Olivia are held captive somewhere, and their kidnapper says to Olivia: “I can’t wait to slice you like string cheese.” And then he makes a slurping noise. “Chop Chop” is the worst type of mindless horror movie, because instead of viewers reacting with screams or chills, viewers are more likely to react with yawns and snores.

Kamikaze Dogfight and Gravitas Ventures released “Chop Chop” on digital and VOD on October 20, 2020.

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