What would you do to keep your dream going? That question is taken to the extreme in Faraway Feature Production’s new horror thriller American Killing. Written by Matthew Ward, the film follows cartoon creator Jeb as he’s facing the cancellation of his passion project. In a last ditch effort to save the ratings, the studio sends Jeb and his team of writers to a isolated mansion in the mountains so they can really put their best ideas to work. Jeb isn’t about to let other people control his baby and his apprehension towards the process pushes the group apart..and to their graves! When he suffers a mental break, the unemployed creator equips the mansion with cameras and murders his team one by one, catching the entire massacre all on video. Now that’s a story you won’t see featured in a cartoon! Starring Trevor Peterson, Lenny Citrano, Adam Carr, Persia White, Demetri Goritsas, Melinda Lee, Caitlin Gerard, Christopher Wolfe, Daniel Schettini and Jennifer Christopher, American Killing is on DVD and digital beginning August 6th 2019 courtesy of High Octane Pictures.
Formerly known as Wichita, American Killing is the feature length directorial debut of Matthew Ward and Justin Ah Chong. The duo also produced the picture along with Yaniv Elani and Nate Gold. Instead of taking the film in the traditional cabin in the woods route, its creators went for a more dramatic thriller infused with horror and gore, although the latter pairing doesn’t come until much later. Even though the films couldn’t be anymore different in terms of content, American Killing has the same atmosphere and mood as Clue. A classy, sophisticated experience with constant secret reveals and carefully plotted deaths. Aside from the one promiscuous couple, the characters are marginally relate-able and far from horror film stereotypes, and you’ll be left in anticipation when observing their death scenes because you really don’t know who’s going to be next. My favorite character bit the dust rather earlier and the survivor wasn’t who I had pegged in the beginning. A cozy location and a refined group of professionals sets the score for a path of destruction by a man at his whits end.
American Killing features cinematography by Nate Gold and editing by Edo Brizio. The movie itself is too good to be considered an independent film due to its high production value and uber-talented cast. Oddly, this is perhaps the film’s only downfall. It’s too polished and too well-mannered to be considered anything torturous or terrifying. Because the behind-the-scenes crew and on screen performers were so fruitful in their efforts, I feel that American Killing is void of that raw ferocity that makes other films in its category more successful in unnerving an audience. American Killing definitely plays to its thrilling and dramatic moments more than the gore, although there are some pretty grizzly scenes in the second half of the movie. Still, its trudge into madness is a little slow and even when the events turn violent – it’s just so classy and sophisticated that it loses the horror appeal. At least the way Jeb captured his murders on camera wasn’t done in traditional found footage fashion, and I can definitely get behind that, but I have to admit this movie won’t be for everybody.
American Killing is releasing on DVD and digital on August 6th 2019. It’s the perfect movie for wine drinking and a more laid-back experience, but I don’t think it has enough bite for true horror fiends. A script that strays from the beaten path, an enviable location and even more jealousy-inducing lead cast, American Killing is a psychological nightmare and a dramatic reality for a lot of people working in show business, but again, its somewhat lacking in disturbing content; and especially content that we haven’t seen before. I wish the envelope was pushed just a little bit more.
Final Score: (based on overall quality) 7 out of 10.