Hey gang, Valkor here. I know summer is just getting its legs - especially here in NJ where the temps have hit the extreme. So, to keep my mind off the heat, I'll be dipping into horror mode in preparation for the upcoming Halloween season. First up on the MediaView chopping block is “American Killing”. And while it has something of a rocky start, it has an ending that'll shake you to your core!
American Killing puts the focus on Jeb (Trevor Peterson), a writer/creator for a children's animated series titled “Amy and the Aliens”. According to the film, the previous season didn't do so hot, so the producers are sending Jeb and crew on a work retreat to work out the kinks in preparation of the show's new season. However, Jeb has an idea about a behind-the-scenes reality series that would help spark new life into the show. While the producers aren't interested, Jeb sets up reality shop anyway, unbeknownst of his coworkers.
Things start rather timid as work the begins on the new season. That is until Jeb starts manipulating the crew for his own selfish needs. One person, in particular, is a guy named Clark (Demetri Goritsas), who recently started drinking after having stopped for 8 months, which lead to his divorce and separation from his child. Jeb fakes a phone call to Clark's ex and when he calls her back, he learns the initial call never happened. Mind you, this is when Clark fell off the wagon and didn't want his wife to know. But what kicks off all the murders is when Jeb is suddenly fired from his own show. He pays a visit back home to visit his mom, which would explain where Jeb gets his crazy. And that's when the shit hits the fan as one murder leads to another and soon Jeb is back at the house to finish the reality show he started. Only it's about to get really, really, real!
American Killing was initially titled “Wichita”, and I appreciate the name change as I don't quite see how the original name matches with the film. Other than that, let's dive right into what gives this film an editor's choice award in the TOV Breakdown.
With spooky season aka Halloween not too far off, you'll want to add some horrific delights into your film rotation. And I'd recommend “American Killing”; it's a solid voyeuristic, slasher horror film that doesn't have a lot of gore, but it has plenty of chills and intense moments to spare. The story is straightforward, though it took some time to get things started. However. it's the ending that brings this one home as it's unpredictable and quite disturbing - it definitely caught me off guard and I found it quite jarring! Finally, I thought the acting was on point with Trevor Peterson's Jeb the true standout. His buildup from stressed-out writer to a full-on murderer is a trip and a half! Persia White also gets props for her Raven character, though I think more could/should have been done with her. For instance, Jeb's infatuation with her should have played out a few more times before the end. But that's neither here nor there as the film was still pretty damn good! In the end, I really enjoyed American Killing. And kudos to the filmmakers on their debut outing!
American Killing isn't perfect, but my only real issue is that Jeb doesn't do enough "striking of the matches" to get his peers worked up for his reality series. Messing with Clark was one thing, but there's more that could have been done, Like maybe messing around with Billy (Christopher Wolfe) and his sexual adventures with Natalie (Caitlin Gerard) and Raven. And what about sweet, innocent Joan (Melinda Lee)? I think that was a missed opportunity not getting her more involved. Also, there was one point where Billy seems to spot one of the cameras. But then nothing else happens after that. Was he aware he and peers were being watched?
American Killing gets a wide DVD and Digital release on August 6th. But no matter the format, the film is one insane ride filled with plenty of chills and intense moments that's worth the price of admission. So, out of TOV 5 stars, I'm giving American Killing a solid 4.