22nd Oct2019

‘American Killing’ Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Trevor Peterson, Persia White, Caitlin Gerard, Demetri Goritsas, Christopher Wolfe, Melinda Lee, Sondra Blake, Adam Carr, Jennifer Christopher, Lenny Citrano, Max Kasch | Written by Matthew D. Ward | Directed by Justyn Ah Chong, Matthew D. Ward


Written by Matthew D. Ward who co-directs with Justyn Ah Chong, American Killing is the feature debut for the both of them. A thriller with elements of horror and drama, this is something both unique, startlingly dark and very interesting indeed. A movie that took me entirely by surprise, and here’s the why’s, what’s and where’s.

The plot itself follows Jeb, whose cartoon program is in danger of being cancelled by the network. Unrecognised nor complimented for his tireless work ethic, Jeb knows that in order to keep his job he needs to go to drastic places. Jeb, along with a team of writers is sent to a house in the middle of the mountains where they can’t be distracted, in order to work on thirty scripts in just thirty days. The intense situation and obsessive attitude of Jeb himself take the film into a dark direction when Jeb decides to plant hidden cameras around the secluded house and he begins to unravel as the film gets darker and darker, and Jeb’s mind becomes more and more lost to his maddening desire to create a masterpiece.

This whole concept blew my mind, really. It’s something so completely out of the darkness and brilliant, and done in a way I’ve never seen before. Trevor Peterson (Grizzly Park The Vampire Diaries), who plays Jeb, is terrific. Persia White (Cargo, The Vampire Diaries), and Caitlin Gerard (Insidious: The Last Key) also do a magnificent job here. I was very impressed with the acting work across the board, to be quite honest. A voyeuristic tale that delves into a dark and increasingly tormented character, American Killing (also called Wichita) offers something new for a genre often drowning in a strange sense of mundanity. This is anything but mundane, bringing a suffocating and creepy atmosphere with it, and while it may be low on the budget side of things when compared to some, it has plenty to offer and is made with quality in mind, for sure. Ward, who wrote and co-directed as I mentioned, did a wonderful job and created a story and a character (in Jeb) that is both memorable and very intriguing to follow for the films almost 90-minute run-time.

I like to be kept on my toes when it comes to chilling thrillers, and this did just that, keeping me guessing for most of it’s life-span and also causing me to have my mouth hanging open at times too. It’s a slick production with top notch performances and a concept that is as creative as it is menacing, and as compelling as it is dark. Sure, you do start guessing what’s going to happen, and sure… the plot becomes less mysterious as it goes on, but aside from some elements of predictability in its latter moments and the fact that the male characters, aside from Jeb, were a little one-dimensional, I was still mightily impressed. I can’t help but be interested to see what Ward and Chong do next, after this.

**** 4/5

American Killing is out now on DVD and Digital in the US from High Octane Pictures.


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