Chop (2012)

Trent Haaga is one of those people that managed to grab me at a very young age. It was his work on Troma’s Edge TV – a show that Troma made to air in the UK – that put him in that list of people whose careers I just had to follow. Following his split with Troma there wasn’t an awful lot to speak of, except for cameos and Killjoy movies, until Deadgirl was released onto the world. I was amazed that this was even the same Trent Haaga that inhaled ass-fumes on Edge TV or wrote Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV. It was a revelatory moment. It seemed that Trent was all grown up.

Chop is neither a Troma movie or Deadgirl. It fits somewhere in between. A stylish gore comedy with brains (and body parts) to spare. It has a strong throwback vibe without being as crass or opportunistic as some of the recent crop of grindhouse-inspired flicks. If this is designed as a throwback, it harkens back to a simpler time of independent movies: The 90s. While watching Chop, I couldn’t help thinking that if this was made in the middle of the 90s low budget boom, an alternative 2013 would have Trent Haaga helming some big budget superhero tentpoles. And let’s be honest, we all want to see what happens when you give the guy who wrote the Diaper Mafia scene of Citizen Toxie the keys to Stan’s creations. It could still happen, those movies are going to flop and reboot for infinity. I think I might have digressed somewhat.

After his car breaks down, Lance hitches a ride from a stranger. Before he knows what’s happening, he is being forced to kill his half-brother with an axe. Plunged into a world of revenge where his limbs and loved ones are dropping like flies, Lance needs to figure out who the stranger is in order to save his own life. Chop plays with conventions we’ve become accustomed to through the Saw movies and other flicks of late, while all the time having a slightly sadistic smirk on its face. Tonally, it has a lot in common with Some Guy Who Kills People. Their sense of humour is very similar, while their methods are not. Chop is very much more openly comic, with a keen eye on verbal slapstick. The comedy comes from a much darker place too and it is all the better for it.

Troma fans might be interested in knowing that Chop is a reunion of Terror Firmer’s warring heroes Jerry (Trent Haaga) and Casey, although there isn’t much of Casey in Keenan’s performance here. Lance starts the movie appearing likable, but becomes increasingly shady as the running time ticks on. What is interesting to note is how great his comic timing and delivery is. Despite putting in a showy performance, some of the dialogue delivery just feels very earthy and real – while also being incredibly funny. Timothy Muskatell doesn’t come off well in the tussle. Forced to perform next to Keenan, he does his very best and sometimes breaks through but for the most part seems like he is in over his head. That is a common side-effect of playing roles with this level on enthusiasm, if one actor is better at it then the others can just end up looking amateurish. A more seasoned director might have looked for smaller performances from the two leads but let’s face it; Haaga wasn’t looking to make a Coen Brothers film. Chop is clearly made for the express purpose of some laughs, some blood and smiles all round. It definitely succeeds.

Chop gets its UK release in March through Grimm Entertainment.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

4 Comments on “Chop”

  1. Micheal Scott says:

    Muskatell over his head? What movie did you watch?
    If anything it’s the other way around. All Keenan did was mug is way through the film. Funny yes, but an internalized performance it was not.
    It was like putting Jerry Lewis in a film along side Michael Shannon. One is a real actor, the other a clown. In the end its Keenan that looks like the amateur not Muskatell. Plus you lost all credibility when you said Haaga didn’t have much career wise after Terror Firmer.

    • Jim says:

      That’s what she said.

    • Sarah B DeMented says:

      I haven’t actually seen Chop so I can’t comment on that but looking at Trents IMDb, which you kindly linked to, it looks like Jamie was right about there being not “an awful lot to speak of, except for cameos and Killjoy movies”. That’s a pretty long list of cameos and Killjoy movies.

    • Dangerous Jamie says:

      I calls them hows I sees them, man.

      Muskatell might well be the better actor all round, but in this movie I thought he didn’t come off too well. His performance was amped up to a comedy 11 and next to Keenan it just wouldn’t fly.

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