Movie Review: The Clovehitch Killer

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

Rated R

Slacker Reviews: ENEMY (2013)

Enemy Theatrical Poster
Damn homie, my minds playin tricks me

The only real enemy here, was my expectations

I’m not gonna lie. I had such high expectations for this mind melting thriller. The poster was creepy in a vintage/minimalist way. The trailer for the movie was mysterious, and I was a fan of Jake Gyllenhaals performance in Nightcrawler, a thriller he starred in a mere year AFTER he starred in Enemy.

Enemy was NOT what I was expecting. Both, in a good and bad way.

Lets get the plot summary out of the way. The Story is about a mild-mannered college professor Adam Bell (Jake Gyllenhaal) who discovers a look-alike actor and delves into the other man’s private affairs. The film goes on to explore subtle themes of the repressed subconscious, anxiety, and compulsion.

I’m gonna start off with what I loved about the film before I get into the many things that left me shaking my head unsatisfied.

For starters, Jake Gyllenhaal is gripping in this. He plays a dual role in this as both main characters, and the subtleties he displays to differentiate between them are just great. The history teacher, Adam Bell, is a very quiet and meek man. His life consists of teaching, coming home, eating, and sleeping with his girlfriend, who treat each other more like one night stands than actual lovers. His life mirrors the historical patterns he talks about during his lectures. He is a shy, boring man, who only shows some kind of ambition when he finds out he has a twin. From then, he becomes a man on mission to find out whats going on, albeit going about it in the most roundabout and paranoid way possible.

On the flip side, his twin Anthony Claire is much more confident and outgoing. More sure of himself and headstrong. He has a wife, and an apartment that’s well furnished and glistening. The complete opposite of Adam in almost every way. Gyllenhaal handles this tightrope act with ease, without resorting to overacting or turning these characters into horror movie stereotypes. You truly do come to see these as different characters, even if the movie plays to conclusion that they might not be.

Gyllenhaal masterfully plays both characters, propped up by great editing and lighting.

The film has hazy nightmarish atmosphere to it. Almost everything looks dull, brownish and muddy. The world feels cold and uncertain, maybe even fake. There are numerous dream scenarios in the movie that revolve around sexual lust and spiders; spiders that seem to grow and seep into our main characters reality, like ignoring a problem that only becomes larger the more you ignore it. This motif of spiders, lust, and anxiety, eventually come to a head in the films final scene, that comes so out of left-field, that it will either terrify you or leave you scratching your head.

This is where we get into my problems with movie. There are so many ideas, themes, and suggestions, but none of them result in anything of actual substance. For anyone who manages to sit through this slow burn thriller,they will likely leave with a completely different interpretation of whats going on than the next person. Nothing about the movie is certain and it does not attempt to hold your hand.

Normally, I don’t mind that in a movie. Ive seen other psychological thrillers that leave a lot whats going on to the audiences imagination. Where the director refuses to compromise just to have mainstream movie-goers go home happy. Not to sound like a pretentious ass-hat, but this is very much a thinking persons movie. Designed for discussion and analysis. Its just that analyzing the movie is more enjoyable than actually watching it. Too many ideas and too much build up get in the way of actually enjoying the movie. I was CONSTANTLY waiting for something to happen, waiting for all this tension to be released in a surprising sendoff or twist. What I got was much more quieter and subdued. A sly whisper instead of a bang. Even though the film is technically sound in its own right, better than most of the dime-a-dozen crap that’s pushed in theaters, Id be lying if I said my viewing was mostly enjoyable. The first hour was great but as time went, the more unease and impatience grew. “Get to the point, GIVE ME SOMETHING”, was one of the thoughts that appeared in my head near the end.

I cant really give the film points for originality either. Although it changes many details from the novel its based on , the concept of having a doppelganger isn’t territory at all, and the film uses the special effect of twin magic sparsely. The scenes that do showcase both twins interacting are great, but they do leave you wanting more.

It could be said that my own expectations betrayed me. I had this movie in my Netflix queue for about a year, as if i was waiting for the perfect time to watch this gem that I had saved for myself and put on a pedestal. That turned out to be a stupid idea. I had built up this movie so much own mind, that what I got wasn’t at all what I expected, and sadly that ended up hurting my experience. The movie might be more enjoyable on re-watch, although I cant say the urge is strong.

In the end, I went on to prove one of the movies biggest arguments right.

You are your own worst enemy.

I give Enemy a light 7 out of 10.

Enemy was directed by Denis Villeneuve

Based on the 2002 novel “The Double

Rated R for : Strong language, Sexual themes and Nudity