Black Butterfly (R)

Suspense/Thriller 93 min. May 26, 2017
By April Wolfe
English 101 instructors sometimes combat plagiarism by having students read a piece and then write a summary from memory, in their own words. Brian Goodman's Stephen King-like Black Butterfly unfolds a lot like those first-semester freshman compositions. It's as though writers Marc Frydman and Justin Stanley set out to paraphrase some of King's books -- specifically Misery, The Shining and 1408 -- to tell the story of a blocked alcoholic writer in the woods who picks up a hitchhiker, only to be held captive until he can finish his next screenplay.

The beginning riffs on King's work almost verbatim: Antonio Banderas plays writer Paul, whom we see in the first frames staring at a typewriter, the sentence "I am stuck" inked over and over on the paper -- an easy echo of The Shining's "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." Paul's trying to sell his house for quick cash because he can't sell a book. When hitchhiker Jack (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) — yes, there's an unhinged character named Jack — defends Paul from a riled-up truck driver in a diner, Paul brings the drifter home with him.

Pretty quickly, Jack goes full-on Annie Wilkes, cutting Paul off from anything that might distract him from his work: He seizes Paul's car keys and traps him in the house, under the guise of doing a good deed. Goodman shoots everything in pea greens and dry browns shrouded in dull gray, which smothers in drab seriousness a story that could do with some style and self-awareness. Rhys, usually an enigmatic and thoughtful actor, mimics the timbre of a monotone, emotionless cop.
Brian Goodman Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Piper Perabo, Antonio Banderas, Abel Ferrara, Nicholas Aaron, Vincent Riotta, Nathalie Rapti Gomez Marc Frydman, Justin Stanley Lionsgate

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