The Clovehitch killer is a deceptive, small scale, small town thriller.
At some point or another, we’ve all probably wondered what dark secrets our parents kept from us. A curiosity, an intrusive thought that you probably push out of your mind just as soon at it appears.
No child wants to think the worst of their parents. That something evil or twisted could be lurking beneath their loving smile. And most of us go our whole lives without even considering it.
But what if you had reason to? What if certain circumstances almost pushed you to find out what exactly is going on behind the scenes of your so called “perfect family”. What if everything you thought you knew, got flipped on its head?
The Clovehitch Killer, directed by Duncan Skiles, swan dives into those troubling questions. Shot with such care and patience, its probably one of the best thrillers of 2018. Definitely one of the best serial killer movies in a long while.
The film follows 16 year old Tyler Burnside (played by Charlie Plummer), a kindhearted, yet naive teenager who lives with his devout christian family in the town of Clarksville, Kentucky. The town is haunted by the legacy of The Clovehitch Killer, a serial killer who brutally strangled 10 female victims, before suddenly disappearing 10 years ago. Tyler participates in a boy scout troop, led by his father, Don Burnside (played by Dylan Mcdermott). Don seems like your typical christian small town dad. Friendly to fault, loving towards his wife and 2 children, working a blue collar job to bring home the bacon, stressing “honesty” and “family time”. The Burnside clan: Tyler, his father, his mother Cindy (played by Samantha Mathis), and his little sister look like a perfectly normal family.
But things start to take a turn, when on one night, Tyler sneaks out to meet his crush Amy. Before they start to do exactly what horny teenagers do, they find graphic bondage porn in his dads truck. This obliviously disgusts Amy, and immediately freaks out Tyler. Was this what his father was into? What else was his father hiding? This incident is the spark that ignites Tyler to find out what else his father was keeping from him.
The Clovehitch Killer is not just another run of mill thriller. Its a carefully filmed, slow-burn mystery. Its shot very minimalist and tight, with scenes lingering and allowing suspense to build. Never needing cheap jump scares or pointless action to keep watching. Just using great storytelling and bone-chilling imagery.
Charlie Plummer gives a very convincing performance as Tyler, The viewer is given an amazing sense of just how isolated and conflicted Tyler feels in this situation, never over-acting or just looking like some wooden lanky doll. He truly understands the character he’s playing and the situation hes in.
But the true star of this movie is Dylan Mcdermott, who pretty much blows everyone else out of water in comparison, giving a haunting performance. He somehow comes across as sincere and warm, while also coming across as skin-crawlingly deceptive. A man who could either be simply mis-understood, or genuinely sick in the head.
I love thrillers like this. Ones that actually try to grasp true human terror and tragedy. It dissects the veneer of small town life, and how you never truly know anyone, including those closest to you. What exactly do you do when a loved may have committed violent atrocities, and even more frightening to think about, how do you stop them?
I give The Clovehitch Killer an 9/10
*The movie is available on Hulu