Sundance 2017: Bad Day for the Cut
Donal is a middle aged homebody who spends his days working the fields of his family farm where lives with his elderly mother, Florence. His only getaway is the local pub where he spends most nights drinking alone, enduring the judgmental glances of the other townsfolk who criticize him for still living with his mother. He has few plans for his future, the biggest one being a newly purchased beaten up campervan that he dreams of taking down to the beach. Donal drinks himself to sleep in the van one night and awakens to find his mother brutally murdered in the house, and quickly sets off on a mission to find out what the hell happened to his mother and get revenge along with a man who breaks into his home the next night to kill him.
If that sounds like it escalated rather quickly from a sleepy drama to a revenge thriller, I would agree. You barely get any time with the few characters before one of them is bludgeoned and the other one goes off on his mission that makes little sense. Donal changes from a simple Irish farmer into a reluctant but competent killer at the flip of a switch.
Director Chris Baugh's first feature length film Bad Day for the Cut works very similarly to Jeremy Saulnier's Blue Ruin. It attempts to unfold a twisty story with a sluggish pace and short bursts of bloody violence to keep you on edge. These brief sections of brutality have no bite to them. They largely happen just off screen and usually imply that it was a last resort to let us know it's cool to keep liking the main character. This insistence on attempting to make Donal likable cuts the tension and makes the movie boring.
Despite a strong performance from Nigel O'Neill, Bad Day for the Cut can't quite manage to be entertaining. For half the movie we have an interesting bad guy who has real presence, and out of nowhere he is neutered and the replacement doesn't have much of a voice. The twists also don't inspire anything more than sighs because by the time they've come around I had quit caring about the characters and frankly I was wishing for the movie to end.