starring Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Kevin Schmidt, Melora Walters
written and directed by J. Mackye Gruber & Eric Bress
by Walter Chaw The Butterfly Effect is tidy, nifty even, a great little genre picture that wallows in ugliness, child abuse, animal abuse, classism, and misogyny but with a dirty polish that tends to distract a little from the nastiness. Evan (Ashton Kutcher) suffers from blackouts, has ever since he was a kid, and no wonder, as there seems to be some nasty bouts of molestation, baby murder, and dog immolation buried in there, desperately in need of some good old-fashioned repression. Now a psych student at State U (his research having something to do with memory, naturally), he discovers that he can "possess" himself at various stages of his youth after being triggered by the comp book journals he's been keeping ever since he started having his spells. His efforts at "fixing" the tragedies of his life all tend towards failure, however, as every little wrinkle he puts in the fabric of time results in catastrophic changes in the present. The Butterfly Effect owes a great debt, then, to Ray Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder," Brian Aldiss's "Poor Little Warrior," William Goldman's Control, and Clive Barker's "The Inhuman Condition"; that it manages to honour to some degree each one of its sources (if only with the precision lavished on the telling of its dank tale) identifies the picture as a most difficult beast to embrace--and just as difficult to dislike. The craft above reproach, it's the content that worries.