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  • by Wes Singleton

Black Butterfly, C+


Rated R, 93 minutes

The familiar yet entertaining, occasionally gritty new thriller "Black Butterfly" will remind you of the 1990 Oscar-winner "Misery" but with a nice twist at the end. While some of it's cliched for the genre (the drunk writer living on a mountain is bound to get in some trouble), there are some decent, tense moments in the film directed by actor Brian Goodman.

On the outskirts of a mountain town grappling with a series of abductions and murders, Paul (Antonio Banderas), a reclusive writer, struggles to start what he hopes will be a career-saving screenplay. After a tense encounter with a drifter named Jack (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), Paul offers Jack a place to stay. Soon, the edgy, demanding Jack muscles his way into Paul's work. As a storm cuts off power to the isolated cabin, the two men begin a jagged game that will bring at least one tale to an end.

"Black Butterfly" is co-written by the film's producer Marc Frydman and British writer Justin Stanley is predictably edgy but with a solid turn from Antonio Banderas, who's finding some footing as a serviceable character actor. The film is nothing you haven't seen before and there's some tense tit-for-tat between Banderas and "Vikings" Rhys Meyers; the film is best during these moments as the two strong arm each other.

The last act, an implausibly entertaining twist, is a tad muddled and doesn't fully explore its psychological elements, not to mention it's a stretch just to go through all of this when it could've been accomplished more realistically. As long as it focuses on the tension between Banderas and Rhys Meyers characters, it works as a serviceably edgy thriller. The lovely Piper Perabo, of "Coyote Ugly" and "Looper" fame, is wasted in a small, unnecessary part that contributes little to the story.

The black butterfly does really exist, and legend has it the rare butterfly brings bad luck, which is essential to the plot of the movie "Black Butterfly," as well as you may want to thick twice about picking up hitchhikers or talking to strangers. "Black Butterfly" could've use some better luck with its uneven story, but it's a nice outlet for Banderas as he transitions to more character-driven roles like this.

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