The writer of a children’s animated series, is ordered to a retreat with other writers to write the new series, after what the producers called a bad season. However at the retreat, he becomes more interested in his fellow writers private lives…
American Killing (also known as Wichita) was, according to the IMDB made in 2016. After seeing the film, now getting a release, I can see why it has taken so long.
The basic idea isn’t bad, but it’s the execution that is the issue. The main character, Jeb, his motivation is unclear. That he seems awkward around the other writers is hinted at, but never really developed. He’s made almost creepy from the outset, like opening his laptop, to reveal a picture of Raven (one of the writers). She’s clearly uncomfortable with this, yet there is no attempt by Jeb to explain himself or even apologise.
As Jeb’s relationship begins to crumble with the other writers and he begins spying on them, we actually find, on the whole, they are not very interesting characters. In truth you never really care for any of them.
It’s not the cast to blame. The performances from Trevor Peterson, Caitlin Gerard, Melinda Lee and the others are not bad. No, the main fault is the writing. It wants to take its time showing Jeb becoming more unstable, especially after a brief, odd visit to his religious mother. But it never convinces.
Despite how the the trailer looks, all the violence in the film takes place in the final act. It’s well staged, but, like I said, because of the writing, you don’t care who will live or die. It certainly doesn’t help that the very end is just so badly handled.
Matthew D. Ward is the writer and co-director, along with Justyn Ah Chong and he does direct the film well. I did like that the film tried to pull of that potentially difficult task of slowly watching Jeb unravel while attempting to keep the film interesting. It just needed to be told better.
American Killing isn’t a horror film, more a thriller. Sadly it isn’t an interesting one, instead a rather dull one.
I mentioned earlier that it had sat on the shelf since it was made in 2016.
Maybe it should have stayed there.
Rating: ** out of 5