Director: Donald Lawrence Flaherty, Colin Follenweider
Screenplay: Donald Lawrence Flaherty
Starring: Morgan Benoit, Jeff Hatch, David Mattey
Duration: 90 mins
BBFC Certification: 18
As a fan of mixed martial arts (MMA) as a sport, I have seen many films set in this world, some good and some pretty poor. Brutal tries to bring something different to the genre by adding sci-fi and psychological drama to the mix, but does it work?
As a teenager Trevor O’Hara has been abducted by an alien entity. Fifteen years he has become a violent cage fighter, but he has now met his match in Derrick, a lawyer who has also been abducted. Each night they brutally fight, awakening the next day with no sign of injury. As Derrick wins more fights and proves himself as the superior fighter, he receives more rewards, whilst Trevor is feeling the real pain from the fights. As the two men continue to fight, the brutality of their existence is explored.
The film also follows Trevor’s mother, Katherine, who has spent the past fifteen years looking for Trevor, refusing to give up in her search, and Derrick’s brother, Edward, who begins to take advantage of his disappearance.
The film opens with Trevor and Derrick fighting in an Octagon, punching, kicking, breaking arms and gouging eyes – and this is where it got off to a bad start as far as I’m concerned, the fights are just so unbelievable. The fight choreography is not particularly well done, and the effects are pretty poor – in this day and age gore is usually easily to pull off, even on a low budget. And the budget limitations show throughout the film.
Benoit and Hatch obviously both come from sports backgrounds, as their athleticism comes through in the fight scenes. However, their acting skills leave a lot to be desired. The same can be said of the supporting cast, acting so wooden that at times I was convinced that I was watching a porn film. In fact, the whole look of Brutal is very reminiscent of the “erotic thrillers” of the 90s.
Although, the premise of Brutal is interesting, and I can see what the directors are trying to say, the execution just falls flat. I normally try to be positive and give films a fair crack of the whip, but Brutal was just a slog to get through. Watch at your peril …
Brutal is being distributed on DVD by Inception Media.