Sundance 2017 – “Bad Day For The Cut” Director Chris Baugh Talks Revenge (Plus Bonus Five-Star Review!)
After a few underwhelming film false starts for me via the famed Sundance Film Festival 2017 (those reviews coming later!) I recently came upon a mecca movie here in Park City in the form of a five-star fabulous flick. The movie in question goes by the name of Bad Day For The Cut, but fortunately for film fans it’s proves to be one good night at the movies. An Irish import and official selection for this year’s Midnight Section, the film is about an average farmer who decides to seek some revenge for the murder of his mother. Steeped in bold black comedy, colorful kills and bloody satisfaction, Bad Day For The Cut also features tasty turns by leading man Nigel O’Neill as the payback seeking son and Susan Lynch as the truly nasty baddie of the piece.
So taken, so impressed and so blown away was I by the prowess of Bad Day For The Cut (and it’s equally pitch-perfect poster!) that I’m giving the fans double the dose of cool coverage in this single article. So not only can you read my five-star review of the film, but we also have a little extra cinematic insight via Bad Day For The Cut Director/Co-Writer Chris Baugh who talks revenge movies, cool posters and what’s next for him. So don a bad attitude, grab a weapon of choice and get ready to kick some serious ass. I found gem – read on!
Revenge may be a cinematic subject done to death, but when presented with unique flair and in an original setting it can open up a whole new can of whoopass worms. Such is the fate of the bold, brutal and beautiful new vengeance tale Bad Day For The Cut, a revenge flick unashamed to mix genre tropes with it’s own brand of caustic Irish humor to create a everyman out for justice film that’s fully five-star.
For Donal, a quiet middle-aged Irish farmer, life is pretty uneventful. He runs the property, does odd jobs on the side like car repair and he stays home mostly taking care of his ailing mother whom he adores. But one night Donal hears his mom cry out for help and by the time he reaches her she’s already deceased. Sad, sullen and single-minded in purpose after seeing a glimpse of the killers, Donal decides to find all the folks responsible and put them down for good.
Again the above description sounds like a been there, done that kind of retribution ride, but there’s so much memorable movie mayhem that elevates Bad Day For The Cut. There are of course the typical tropes like bone-crunching kills (trapping a thug under a car hood, Donal adds a little sledgehammer topping to the mix!), terrific story turns (was Donal’s mom as saintly as he thought?) and firm consequences for such angers of the heart, but Director Chris Baugh adds extra layers of a savory setting and black humor in select moments to keep the hard core themes from being too heavy-handed. Plus his lead Nigel O’Neill is the epitome of the avenging everyman and his frumpy and funny but angry character plays wonderfully here against type. And if that’s not enough Baugh also employs the caustic character work of ample actress Susan Lynch as Donal’s female foe who goes from calm to crazy at the drop of a hat with riveting results. (One of her vicious and vocal killing scenes is utterly unforgettable!)
So while the revenge genre may have become tired as of late, it’s only because film folks haven’t added their own insane inspired joy to the eye-for-an-eye cinematic category. Bad Day For The Cut skillfully hits all the right notes we expect from such an outing, all the while adding it’s own film flavor and it gives vengeance cinema seekers serious satisfaction. No luck of the Irish here – Baugh and company just know how to do revenge right.
And now an interview with the man – sorry genius – who made the above….
DIRECTOR/CO-WRITER CHRIS BAUGH!
Where did the idea for Bad Day For The Cut come from and what made you want to make it your feature film debut?
Chris Baugh: It basically came from us wanting to do something for Nigel – we wanted to write something for Nigel. And we had the opportunity to make a film though Northern Ireland Screen’s New Talent Focus scheme. So Northern Ireland Screen’s are part of the government funding body for Northern Ireland and every year they’ll give a first-time feature filmmaker the entire budget for their movie. So when that opportunity came along we started off by saying let’s write something for Nigel and then we got to do a character meets Oldboy revenge thriller.
Vengeance in all its glory and the consequences are rich in Bad Day For The Cut – what are some of the revenge films of the past that you loved and influenced you?
CB: I’m a big fan of the Korean revenge movies. All of Park Chan-wook’s stuff and the operatic nature of those movies and the intense visceral nature of them, I love all that. So we wanted to take that, but put it in a setting that hadn’t really been seen in this genre before. And that was very personal to us, because it was in Northern Ireland where Brendan (Mullin, Co-Writer) and I are from, so we wanted to have that authenticity. But also the momentum of a crazy Korean revenge film.
Can you explain what the title means for those who don’t know?
CB: The title is a reference to farming. Basically it’s just a saying in Northern Ireland – if the grass is too wet to go out and cut it in the fields then it’s a bad day for the cut. So that was just a phrase we’ve heard growing up and I always thought it sounded like a very cool genre title like Bad Day At Black Rock – something that slips off the tongue and sounds cool.
Leading man Nigel O’Neill brings a unique everyman quality to a guy who has been pushed too far – how much of his fantastic performance did he bring vs. what was on the page?
CB: Nigel brought so much to it. It was on the page to a certain extent because we wrote the role for Nigel and I’d worked with Nigel quite a few times before, so I knew in writing that character how he would play it. It would be funny and heartfelt and emotional. But whenever we actually got on-set his performance and what he had done was way beyond what I dreamed it could be. Every day was a joy going on-set to see him deal with this character.
I’d be remiss not to talk about the sweet and sadistic baddie of the film Frankie played with real relish by the scene stealing Susan Lynch – how did she get cast and what were some of her more loud unbridled moments in the film like to shoot?
CB: With Frankie we just went through a process of casting and had seen wonderful actresses from Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland and from UK and Susan sent in a tape that was so funny and so scary. It had the perfect mix of humor and scariness that we wanted for Frankie. We wanted her to have this glint in her eye and be slightly funny, but also she can flip on a dime and be terrifying. And Susan’s honestly quite a well-known Northern Irish actress, so it was amazing for me as a first timer to get someone like her and she was just a joy to work with. And shooting those scenes Susan’s very funny person and took to the role with relish, so any of those kills she went for it wholeheartedly. (Laughs) It was so funny and so intense.
Have to ask about that kick ass poster which along with your film is in firm contention the best of end of the year lists – who designed it and where can I get a damn copy?
CB: That was Justin Erickson from Phantom City Creative in Toronto. We were big fans of their work – they had done posters for The Invitation and Stung and Baskin and other cool genre movies. So we talked to Justin and showed him the movie and he really clicked with it and we just went back and forth with different ideas. We talked a lot about old western posters like the Pale Rider poster – we want to give it a gritty badass illustrated feel. In terms of getting one? I’m sure they’ll be available in the not too distant future.
What’s next for you film wise?
CB: We have another project called Boys From County Hell, which is a Northern Irish vampire film. Kind of like Bad Day For The Cut but with vampires and we’re hoping to shoot that later in the year.
Special thanks to Chris Baugh for taking time out to chat and for making one mighty memorable movie. If you haven’t seen Bad Day For The Cut yet those at Sundance still have a shot to check it out! It will be playing today at 9:30pm at the Redstone Cinema 1, Wed. 25th at 11:30pm at Prospector Square Theatre and finally on Saturday 28th at 11:59pm at the Broadway Centre Cinema. (Check out the info HERE!) Get tickets, hang in the wait line or do whatever it takes – five-star flicks don’t come around everyday! Viva la Bad Day For The Cut!