An Internet “ghost hunter” films an invocation called Beckoning the Butcher with his friends for an online video. Inadvertently, he summons dangerous paranormal forces far beyond his control with the ritual.
The camcorder rolls as Chris, Tara, Brent, Lorraine, and Nicole head up to rural Victoria (Australia not British Columbia). They are working on Chris’s latest episode of his online ghost hunting series. Chris says he’s wanted to come out to the particular house they’re staying in for a long time.
It’s a run down country home owned by his family, and, finally, he’s found the ultimate ritual for it. The ritual is called Beckoning the Butcher. He read about it on the Internet, and it’s supposed to be really freaky. These young folks, though, are thoroughly unprepared for anything legitimately disturbing to happen. It’s all fun and games to them. If only they knew what they are in for . . .
The friends complete the ritual and, gradually, strange things begin to happen—a few noises, some strange feelings. As the night progresses, and everyone tries to go to sleep, the phenomena manifests further. They’re sleepwalking in possessed states, wandering off into the woods. Spooky ghosts are popping up at them. Most of them virtually disappear off the face of the earth, too. You know, scary stuff all around.
The “found footage” of the events described above is interspersed with documentary interviews with those studying, or involved with, Chris’s puzzling and disturbing video: a psychic, some cops, family members, et cetera.
It’s true. THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY have set forth a trope that is endlessly repeatable—and cheap to make. The cash-in’s won’t stop coming out, either. One after another. When will it end? And BECKONING THE BUTCHER is no different—and no more memorable—than any other zip-budget found footage flick you’ve seen. You have your young, ordinary, but good looking subjects who were messing around with a camera.
You’ve got your things going horribly wrong for them, and a lot of shaky camcorder work. Anyone can make a found footage movie, and so few are any good. BECKONING THE BUTCHER is predictable and tired, like all the other ones. It follows the formula one hundred percent, not straying once. It also fails to look real or even credible. When the ghosts do pop up, their utter lack of subtlety—and bad special effects—gives them away, removes you from the moment.
There could be much more scary stuff going on, too. They cut it pretty slim with the ghostly manifestations and creepy events. That’s the key attraction for movies like this. You want it to go wild. Sadly, BECKONING THE BUTCHER never does. That sleepwalking girl with the blood on her face is pretty funny, though.
And the documentary-type additions do absolutely nothing for the experience. If anything they’re boring and hokey, especially the stuff about the psychic. Yep, as expected, she gets very bad readings from the house. Imagine that. When has a psychic in a haunting movie had bad readings from the house where supernatural forces were released?
In BECKONING THE BUTCHER’s favor, however, are the main actors: the five kids who embark on the wrong project. The five are surprisingly good, and they are the only thing that pulls the hopelessly formulaic plot along. They’re likable and, for the most part, authentic seeming. Even though they’re young, attractive, horror movie fodder, they somehow manage to transcend their role. But above average characters aren’t enough to make this one enjoyable.
It’s really no wonder so many of these flicks get cranked out. And that’s what’s wrong with them. They’re too easy. You feel like you’re watching a filmmaker take the most effortless course of action possible, and there’s no fantasy to be penetrated. You might as well just watch BLAIR WITCH or PARANORMAL ACTIVITY again instead.