Botched full movie review - Started too strong
Botched is a victim of high expectations. It starts out so strongly that you can't help but be disappointed at how it finishes.
If there wasn't such a stark difference between the beginning and the end, you could throw it on the same pile with a lot of other horror comedies as another niche entry in a niche genre for a niche audience. But because the opening offers the possibility to be so much more than that, you can't help but be a little more disappointed when it doesn't.
Ritchie (Stephen Dorff) is an American thief with a debt to pay to a Russian gangster (Sean Pertwee). After a diamond heist goes wrong and leaves Ritchie empty handed, he's given one more chance to make good. He's ordered to steal a golden cross from the penthouse home of a wealthy Moscow family. Teamed up with a couple of local thugs, Ritchie nabs the cross. But on the elevator ride back down, a bunch of civilians crowd in with the three criminals and then the elevator stops at what appears to be a floor of the building that's undergoing renovations. Thinking it's the cops, Ritchie and the thugs take the others hostage in hopes of negotiating their way out of this mess. But when Ritchie offers to let one of the hostages go as a show of good faith and the "cops" cut off the hostage's head with a big pair of scissors, it's pretty clear the world of normal crime has been left far behind. Now facing brutal death and surrounded by comic relief, Ritchie has to somehow get himself and the cross to safety.
I can't praise the start of Botched enough. It not only doesn't let on you're watching a horror film right away, it's thoroughly convincing as the opening to a completely different sort of story. This movie not only looks and feels like a crime thriller at the beginning, it looks and feels like a reasonably clever one. By having the opening robbery foiled by pure bad luck and then giving Ritchie "one more chance" to make things right, it even suggests how the rest of the film is going to go. And I can imagine that setting things up like that only to take a hard left turn at Albuquerque into horror comedy seemed like a brilliant idea. It wasn't.
The problem is that Ritchie and one of the civilians (Jaime Murray) who becomes his sort-of love interest are played relatively seriously through the whole thing, while everything and everyone else gets played for laughs. Well, played for the sort of laughs you get in a horror comedy. The victims are supposed to be funny, the killer is supposed to be funny, the murder and dismemberment is supposed to be funny, the whole situation is an outright attempt at dark comedy with very little drama at all. But Stephen Dorff as Ritchie doesn't reflect any of that. It's like he's in a different movie, which isn't a good thing when you're talking about the main character.
Probably the best thing about Botched is Jaime Foreman as Peter, one of the Russian thugs teamed up with Ritchie. He's almost like a character from one of the Grand Theft Auto video games come to life and his violent and crude personality is broad enough to blend in when things veer off into the grotesque and absurd. Probably the worst thing about Botched is Geoff Bell as Boris, a security guard character that these filmmakers obviously thought highly of since they give him a lot of screen time. Unfortunately, they never quite figured out exactly who Boris was supposed to be. It's never clear when or whether the character is being honest, putting on a show for others or lying to himself about who he is.
I'm not sure if Botched could have been salvaged. I suspect it's one of those ideas that are great in theory but never work out in practice. If you're a horror comedy fan, you might like it. Outside that niche, it won't have much appeal.