A dude named Jeb just so happens to be a director for a children’s television program…and that program just so happens to be tanking faster than Andrew Dice Clay at a feminist rally (I’ve been saving that one since 1988…I think you’ll agree it’s aged like a fine wine whose grapes were fermented in pure mirth). Anyway, ol’ Jeb has the 1000Watt idea to take a bunch of writers to a secluded lodge (the journey to which will bring to mind a certain Kubrick lensed fright flick…or the ending of the theatrical cut of Blade Runner…but what’s the difference really) to try and create some creative zeitgeist. Seems reasonable…oh, and Jeb decides to film everything with hidden cameras because he is coming unglued and is preparing a major case of the “goin’ ape-shits” that will leave the group all murdered like (but not before he uses their deepest secrets against them).
I have to admit, ol’ American Killing shocked the living hell outta me; when I read the description of the flick, and began feasting my putrid peepers upon it, I expected the film to be your run of the mill “secluded cabin slash-a-thon” that are a dime a dozen ’round these parts, but I was proven wrong!
First of all there’s Jeb, as portrayed to perfection by Trevor Peterson…it’s nothing short of fascinating to watch this cat go from put upon loser to off-the-rails maniac seemingly at the flick of a switch…and the weird part is, you can almost sympathize with him…well, until he starts getting all homicidal that is. Also of note are his victims…rather than the “dude bro” frat boys and pouty ex-cheerleaders that normally comprise the victim pool in pictures such as this, you instead get nuanced, mature, professional types (for the most part) that have layered lives…in other words, these seem like real people that suffer the rage of our “everyman” murder machine, and you feel for them.
I also must note the beautiful setting of the film…there are some great Autumnal and early Winter landscapes that are featured here to painterly perfection that really offer a different and aesthetically pleasing vibe to the proceedings.
As for the negatives…well, in my book there aren’t very many of them outside of a few visual nods and performance cues lifted from The Shining…but if you’re going to steal, steal from the best I always say…and honestly it doesn’t really detract from the overall experience.
I would urge any of you fine fiends out there to give American Killing the once over, especially if you dig on the more psychological side of our beloved fright flicks. It’s well shot, terrifically acted, and full of suspense throughout!