Sundance 2017 Review: ‘Bad Day for the Cut’ is a Vengeful Good Time
Bad Day for the Cut is a Vengeful Good Time
Bad Day for the Cut stars Nigel O’Neill as Donal, a middle aged farmer who lives with his mother on their family farm. After the murder of his mother, Nigel goes on a mission to get revenge for her death. Along the way, secrets about his family are revealed and Nigel realizes people aren’t always who they seem to be.
Director Chris Baugh creates a great balance of heart, humor, and violence in the form of an old-school revenge film. At the heart of the story is Donal, played by Nigel O’Neill. He is portrayed as a very sympathetic character who does what he needs to do. He has taken care of his aging mother and the farm because that’s what sons do. After her murder, he goes on a quest for vengeance because he feels it needs to be done.
This role played with excellent subtly by O’Neill. While Donal’s physical demeanor does not change much over the film, you can feel the anger and hurt bubbling up underneath the surface, waiting to explode. O’Neill’s nuances in his facial expressions and physical motions show a man trying to keep it under control and thinking things through. The audience wants Donal to succeed in his mission, regardless of the bloody actions he may have to take. This is in stark contrast to the other stand out character, Frankie.
Susan Lynch plays Frankie, the boss of the local crime organization who rules with an iron fist. Lynch’s Frankie is a character who can go from calm to violent like the flip of a switch. She is a very intimidating character and you can see why the people she commands her follow her orders. She is not afraid to get her hands dirty, and at times she seems to enjoy it. There is an interesting dichotomy between Donal and Frankie that develops during the movie. Both are on similar missions and even approach how to accomplish that mission in similar ways, but Donal only does what he has to do, and no more, while Frankie goes to the extreme.
The violence is this film is raw and gritty without going over the top. There are a number of torture scenes, but it does not feel excessive. Chris Baugh gives the audience a reason to wince at the action on screen but doesn’t pushed it the point where the viewer would have to look away. There is one scene with a clothing iron that I thought was great example of this kind of direction. Donal uses the iron to try to get information out of one of Frankie’s henchmen. It went on long enough to get the point across, effective in instilling an emotional response out of the audience without getting bloody. The way Donal goes about deciding to use the iron even had a touch of humor to it. There are other moments of humor peppered throughout the script that were subtle enough lighten the mood after a particularly heavy scene while not derailing the overall tone of the movie.
While the core story has been done before, the characters of Donal and Frankie, as well as the direction of Chris Baugh, make Bad Day for the Cut worth a watch. It has everything one looks for in a revenge film. It just a bit predictable in its ending, but the ride getting there is fun.