Chop Chop

***1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Chop Chop
"With a punchy yet soulful soundtrack and some sizzling dialogue, this is an impressive feature début that will keep you guessing all the way through."

A young couple enjoying a night alone together. Dinner, romance, the promise of good times. A knock at the door. It's a man who claims that he has pizza to deliver. Liv (Atala Arce) is alone when she answers the door, boyfriend Chuck (Jake Taylor) in another room and unable to hear her. We've already seen the pizza delivery man walking along carrying a bag of severed heads so we know how this is going to end, don't we? No. We really don't.

Chop Chop is one of those film that presents a real challenge to reviewers because of its multiple twists, with a narrative that is dramatically restructured more than once. It slips between the horror and crime genres with ease but also has elements of comedy and romance. Throughout, it is very much its own creature. The tricks it plays never destroy the mood and director Rony Patel never lets the tension slacken. Arce and Taylor are likeable leads and have natural chemistry which makes us root for their characters even in some deeply uncomfortable situations.

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One thing leads to another as the two try to solve their problems in ways that continually present them with new ones. Patel is aware of the absurdity of this and uses it to drive the film's dramatic scenes. Chuck is not a stranger to violence and plays it cool at first, only gradually coming to accept that he's out of his depth. Liv, whom he strives to protect throughout, finds hidden reserves within herself but remains emotionally affected by the things she sees and gets caught up in, making the film a more resonant experience for viewers as well.

Patel's direction is distinctive throughout, with shot choices that showcase a unique perspective. Viewers who were expecting conventional horror may find the result a little too quirky but those with a more artistic bent will be delighted. It's a combination of camerawork and acting, rather than special effects or the scenarios themselves, that make the film disturbing. During the most violent scenes, a lot of what takes place is implied rather than being shown directly.

With a punchy yet soulful soundtrack and some sizzling dialogue, this is an impressive feature début that will keep you guessing all the way through. It's a film in which no opportunity is wasted, where even the characters we meet in passing have been carefully drawn, and in a season littered with cheap scares it delivers something that will stay with you.

Reviewed on: 19 Oct 2020
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A night of chaos ensues when a murderous psychopath targets a loving young couple who might be harbouring a secret of their own.

Director: Rony Patel

Writer: Rony Patel, Andrew Ericksen

Starring: Atala Arce, Jake Taylor, David Harper, Mikael Mattsson, Jeremy Jordan, James McCabe

Year: 2020

Runtime: 81 minutes

Country: US

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