Three young real-estate investors find themselves trapped inside a building with a murderous madman in Douglas Elford-Argent’s new straight to DVD horror, Brazen Bull. What starts out looking like yet another knock-off of the Saw franchise, Brazen Bull never turns into the cheap torture-porn flick you might expect from the trailer. What unfolds after a very slow thirty minutes and possibly the most cliched opening sequence in history, is a thriller with next to no thrills.
When Tyler (David Frank Flectcher Jr.) goes to scope out his new investment, an old abandoned office building, he brings along his fiance Lauren (Jennifer Tisdale) and her friend Natasha (Rachel Hunter). Natasha is there to document the inspection process of the building, though her use of a camcorder throughout the film never comes back up in the films or adds to it in any way, which it could have. After losing Tyler and somehow becoming trapped in a building with endless windows and doors right on ground level, Natasha and Lauren argue and climb stairs for what feels like hours. When they find a mutilated body in a dark hallway, things really start to heat up… and by that I mean they keep climbing stairs and yelling. Eventually they find out that Tyler has been taken captive by the crazed Brazen Bull (Michael Madsen) in a scene that looks way too much like Saw (there is even a trademark Saw tricycle).
Michael Madsen does a good job at playing the badass psychopath, and even adds in some dark humor to make the rest of the film bearable. Madsen’s character brings a twist to the story that shows a man at his wit’s end due to the poor economy and housing market. Madsen is entertaining with his odd quirks and growly voice, with acting not great, but miles ahead of the horrible acting we see from rest of the cast, namely David Frank Flectcher Jr. (when his characters' hand is cut off with a saw, he gently exclaims; “oh no, please don’t.)
The dialog is awkward and never believable, apart from what is delivered by Madsen. Consisting mainly of unjustified arguing, the characters never give us any reason to care about what happens to them, even in the worst of situations. One would think that for a film like this, the audition would at least require a believable scream, but apparently not.
While this film was flawed from the get-go, it is the last few moments of the film that bring it from a weak thriller to an all out joke. Brazen Bull lacks the over-the-top horror, gore, and general cheesiness one might enjoy with this type of straight to the shelf horror, and yet is not nearly real enough to be taken seriously. What we are left with is an awkward middle ground that is not enjoyable in any way, apart from a few good moments on behalf of Madsen’s character.
Unless you are a huge Michael Madsen fan who is insistent on seeing all his work, I would recommend any other low-budget horror film you may find in the bargain bin at your local Wal-mart.