Farce is hard to pull off at the best of times. Exaggerated situations and cartoonish characters aren’t exactly relateable for most audiences, so you have to be really funny to counteract the audience’s ability to suspend disbelief. Which is probably why so many things that pass for farce are just really broad jokes, delivered with a “laugh now” inflection for the viewer. Trying to add horror to farce just complicates everything more than is necessary, which probably explains why so many horror comedies go so broad when trying for farce, and why zombies are so popular a subject, since their inherent unreality and unrelateability doesn’t get in the way of the joke.
Which is a long way of going simply to say that it’s really tricky to pull off satisfying farce in a horror film if you’re not making it about fucking zombies.
Botched opens with Richie and two compatriots stealing diamonds from an auction house during the auction itself. Before they can get away, though, their car crashes and Richie is the only survivor, losing the diamonds in the chaos. To make up for the debt he owes mob boss Groznyi, he agrees to steal an antique cross from an office building in Russia, and is paired up with two brothers, one an idiot and one…an idiot but a trigger-happy one. Predictably, this heist goes wrong as well, and the three are forced to take hostages when they become trapped in an elevator, including office worker Anna, reporter Dmitry, incompetent security guard and alleged ex-spetsnaz officer Boris and a trio of female missionaries. Richie and his companions originally believe that they have been trapped on the 13th floor of the building and are waiting for a stand-off with the police, but when a man dressed in medieval Russian armor begins killing the hostages, it becomes clear that they have stumbled onto the killing floor of a serial killer who believes himself to be the descendant of Ivan the Terrible. Working with his sister, the head of the missionaries (who had been in the process the women to the killing floor when they were taken hostage), he picks his way through the hostages and criminals, using vaguely Rube Goldbergian schemes and traps, while Richie and Anna try to escape. Critically wounding the brother-sister pair, Richie and Anna make their way out, while Boris accidentally alerts building security to the situation, leaving Richie to deliver the crucifix to Groznyi and return to America with Anna.
On the horror-comedy scale, Botched definitely leans more towards the comedy end of things. It opens much like a heist film, and uses much of that same structure throughout. Only instead of clever crooks having to evade police, we have clever crooks trying to evade a serial killer, a more extreme situation, a less plausible situation, and a far more dangerous situation. But rather than play up that situation for drama, the film uses cartoonish characters and gives us Richie, an everyman who must react to the lunatic he’s surrounded by and the unfathomably terrible situation he’s in. But, again, the film goes broad, highlighting the surreal and bizarre nature of Richie’s situation, acknowledging to the audience that, yes, we know that this is an entirely absurd situation, just go with it. And so, crazed religious fundamentalist descendants of the czars on killing sprees it is.