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Directed by Mickey Keating
Written by Mickey Keating
Starring Ashley Bell, Angela Trimbur, Jeremy Gardner, James Landry Hébert, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Larry Fessenden, Sam Zimmerman, Mark Kassen, Miranda Parham, Helen Rogers, Ivana Shein, Padraig Reynolds, Jayme Savage, Katherine Skelton, Christina Elizabeth Smith, Michael Villar, Ross Francis, Josh Ethier,
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I’m a huge fan of the films of Mickey Keating. I first noticed his unconventional way of telling a story with POD, an excellent exercise in paranoia. Next came the arthouse descent into madness called DARLING, which alienated those who preferred a more straight forward way of telling a story, but impressed me with its eye for simple artistry. Next came CARNAGE PARK, which charged out of the gates with confidence, but ended rather unsatisfactorily. With PSYCHOPATHS, Keating delivers the brutality of CARNAGE PARK and the focus on POD through the arthouse lens crafted in DARLING. By now, you most likely know if you’re a Mickey Keating fan. I am and I feel PSYCHOPATHS is his most accomplished feature to date.
When a madman (Larry Fessenden) is executed on the electric chair, he makes a promise that by killing him, the authorities will be releasing an uncontrollable evil onto the world. That is the setup of this film which then ventures out of the prison and into the nearby city which houses quite a few mad men and women all looking to unleash their own special brand of carnage. Throughout the night, the film focuses on five psychopaths as their lives intersect in surprising and unconventional ways and resulting in a massive amount of bloodshed.
Keating has gathered an impressive cast of characters and if you’ve been paying attention to the recent indie horror scene, you’re going to see a lot of familiar faces. THE FINAL GIRLS’ Angela Trimbur plays Blondie, a shut in with a mysterious and sadistic side, who happens upon another psychopath (WESTWORLD’s James Landry Hébert) fresh from a brutal kill himself that we witness in the first seconds of the film, and ends up luring her into her web of sadism and torture. Meanwhile, an overturned ambulance releases another psychopath Alice (CARNAGE PARK/THE LAST EXORCIST’s Ashley Bell) from a mental institution, allowing her to follow a fighting couple home for her to play with. Looking for Alice is a psycho-cop (THE BATTERY’s Jeremy Gardner) who ends up crossing paths with a masked man-monster (Sam Zimmerman) in the desert. Seeing all of these nutjobs bouncing into one another is fun, but with these psychos being played by such recognizable faces, it makes it all the more enjoyable. Bell and Trimbur are especially fantastic in their turns as two very different psychos and Gardner and Hebert do a fantastic job of being both antagonistic headcases that we end up sympathizing with. Just when you think things can’t get more crazy, another psychopath is introduced and it gets darker and more nuts.
And while this film definitely has a solid throughway in the form of a narrative, Keating takes a lot of liberties here in allowing his camera to go more artsy as well. Using montages, slow fades, trippy music, and odd edits, Mickey makes the world itself around these lunatics feel ethereal and unreal. Utilizing stage lighting and small darkened sets, Keating most likely did this film on the cheap, but through camera trickery and a little stage magic, PSYCHOPATHS looks a lot more extravagant than it cost—another testament to Keatings indie ingenuity to make something out of nothing.
The Tarantino-esque stories that twist and twirl in and around each other in PSYCHOPATHS makes this one unique film. While the violence is potent and sometimes over the top, Keating makes everything feel dangerous and sharp-edged. The cast is giving it their all in this one; all of them determined to out psycho the other and succeeding over and over again. Fans of Keating’s pull up by the bootstraps style of filmmaking and eye for arthouse surreality are going to be surprised and pleased with why they find when they descend into the mad nightmare that is PSYCHOPATHS.
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