Brian Goodman’s “Black Butterfly” is a moderately effective thriller with several “gotcha!” twists … until it delivers one gotcha twist too many.
Paul (Antonio Banderas) is a once-promising novelist and screenwriter now fallen upon hard times. He sits in his remote cabin home in the Rockies (actually, the film was shot in Italy) pecking aimlessly at his typewriter, drinking heavily and hoping for inspiration. It isn’t forthcoming.
Meanwhile, a serial killer has been terrorizing the neighborhood, snatching young women who are never seen again.
During a confrontation at a local diner with a bad-tempered trucker, Paul is defended by Jack (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), a mysterious drifter. Thankful for the intervention, he invites Jack to stay a few days at his home. Jack agrees to make some repairs to the place, which the financially-strapped Paul must reluctantly sell.
But there’s something a bit off about this guest. Jack keeps in his backpack newspaper clippings about the missing women. He can be surly and suspicious.
Eventually it all boils down to Paul and his realtor (Piper Perabo) being held hostage by the shotgun-waving Jack. They make a desperate attempt at escape.
“Black Butterfly” (the title refers to a jailhouse tattoo sported by Jack) has been reasonably well acted despite what seems like awfully familiar territory.
The screenwriters, Marc Freedman and Justin Stanley, deliver a couple of logically shaky but dramatically effective switcheroos. In its second half, “Black Butterly” turns the story inside out, making us question everything we think we know about the characters.
That would be fine and dandy, but the writers couldn’t leave enough alone. Ultimately they deliver a last-minute revelation that turns the film into the equivalent of the notorious “dream season” of TV’s “Dallas.”
Uh … no thanks.