2021, NR, 98 min. Directed by Tyler Wayne. Starring Adam Donshik, Tyler Wayne, Marie Burke, Jennifer Adams, Andrew Lauer, Addison Ross.
REVIEWED By Richard Whittaker, Fri., Feb. 5, 2021
When your child is the center of your world, and that center disappears, what's left to hold you together? In dark thriller Goodbye, Butterfly, it's revenge, or justice, or just pure anger for Ryan (Donshik) when his young daughter, Mia (Ross), is abducted and brutally murdered. His immediate suspect is his next door neighbor, Stan Granger (Caroline in the City's Lauer, playing against type as a quiet, nebbish nobody, rather than his more expected comedy roles). Convinced he sees one of his daughter's most loved trinkets in Granger's hands, he sets on a path of retribution - one for which he is singularly ill-suited. Ryan's a softy, and so turns to an old boxing buddy and the only ex-con he knows (Wayne) to enact a completely foolhardy plan: kidnap Stan, and force him confess.
Shot on location in North Carolina, Goodbye Butterfly looks a lot better than most ambitious micro-budget thrillers, and Wayne (who wrote, directed, and stars) undoubtedly knows the right mystery touchstones on which to tread. There's also just enough ambiguity about Granger's guilt to keep sympathies flexible, especially when the two righteous revengers engage in a little light torture.
A derivative score (you'll know it when you here it) and an overly-neat ending can't sabotage a still-enthralling drama, especially when Wayne pulls the rug at key moments. Without those switches, Goodbye, Butterfly could have fallen into either screwball comedy (let's just say neither of the buddies is a hardened master criminal) or grisly torture. Instead, Donshik keeps Ryan the right side of unstoppable vigilante: he's just a guy who may be on the verge of making a terrible mistake, and that's what makes him someone with whom to identify.
Available on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD now.