Paul (Antonio Banderas) is a writer living in a house up in the mountains, far from civilization. It has been a while since Paul has written a book and the bills are piling up. After an incident with a truck driver, a stranger in the diner, Jack (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) chases the truck driver away. As Jack walks down the road, Paul gives him a ride and offers to let Jack stay at his house for the night.
Jack offers to fix up some things around the house and stays longer than expected. He also tries to give Paul some inspiration for writing his next book. Paul, becoming leery of Jack, goes through his backpack and finds newspaper clippings about several women who have gone missing in the area.
Jack, paranoid Paul is going to tell someone he is at the house, becomes more unhinged with each passing day. He refuses to let Paul leave the house, catching him every time he tries. When Paul’s real estate agent and love interest Laura (Piper Perabo) comes to the house one day, Jack holds Paul and Laura hostage. If Paul and Laura hope to survive, Paul must find a way to escape.
Attempting to be a psychological thriller with a twist ending, Black Butterfly falls a little short of its potential.
In what appears to be an attempt to distance himself from his repeated, and successful turn as Puss in Boots, Antonio Banderas takes a much different type of role in this film. As a reclusive writer hoping to save his career, Banderas doesn’t quite reach the level he achieved early in his career. Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who I haven’t seen since August Rush, fares a little better in the film. As his character becomes more deranged, Meyers does a decent job of selling it. Piper Perabo is mostly an ancillary character who could have been played by anyone, but she does an acceptable job.
The story reminds me of Misery, with a side of random abduction and murder thrown in for good measure. It has the making of a decent movie, but never quite gets there. The shaky, hand-held cinematography comes across as low-budget or a student film project, particularly at the beginning of the film. It gets a little distracting, especially at the beginning. Fortunately, it doesn’t take long until either things steadied out or I got used to it. Once the action starts, it escalates quickly without enough motivation or taking the time to properly build the tension. The ending is mostly satisfying, up to a point. You get another point of view of how everything transpired, but not enough explanation into other plot points. In the end, though, it doesn’t really matter.
Black Butterfly, while an interesting premise, feels too rushed to be effective. With a run time of only an hour and a half, they could have taken a little more time to develop the story. A little more background on the characters would help, too. As it is, the film is a bit of a disappointment. I would wait for the Redbox for this one, if you’re going to see it.