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Movie review: 'The Abduction of Zack Butterfield'

Director Rick Lancaster and his co-screenwriter, Stephen Ryder (who explored a teen-adult relationship in "L.I.E."), mash faux social commentary into the clumpy mix

May 27, 2011|By Sheri Linden

The central character in the would-be thriller "The Abduction of Zack Butterfield" is an Iraq war vet at loose ends, determined not to let her psychosexual problems and taste for violence go to waste. In a rural suburb of upstate New York, she kidnaps a teenager to make him her boyfriend, maid and partner in musical duets.

Subscribing to the philosophy that creepy equals interesting, the film contains barely a moment that isn't flat-footed, ludicrous or both.

As 26-year-old April, Brett Helsham lends her role the twisted self-certainty it demands. Inspired by high school teachers who have affairs with their students, the attractive ex-soldier is determined to create her ideal man. She shifts gears on a dime, while star athlete Zack (T.J. Plunkett) shrewdly bides his time. The young actor can do only so much with dialogue that sounds nothing like a teen boy's voice, though.

But no one here sounds like a full-blooded human — not the peripheral stick figures who spout half-hearted clichés and the occasional anti-feminist aside, and not April, who must deliver an overload of sad backstory as explanation for her behavior.

Director Rick Lancaster and his co-screenwriter, Stephen Ryder (who explored a teen-adult relationship in "L.I.E."), mash faux social commentary into the clumpy mix. Spotless, bland interiors reflect the emptiness at the core, and crisp camerawork doesn't mask the murky thinking.


"The Abduction of Zack Butterfield." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hours, 31 minutes. At Laemmle's Sunset 5, West Hollywood.

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