THE CLOVEHITCH KILLER (2018)
Directed by Duncan Skiles
Written by Christopher Ford
Starring Charlie Plummer, Dylan McDermott, Samantha Mathis, Madisen Beaty, Brenna Sherman, Lance Chantiles-Wertz, Jones Emma, Charlie Clark, Mike Cortese
Find out more about this film here
With a unique tone, an unusual pace and an inspired cast, THE CLOVEHITCH KILLER deftly depicts the dangers of what lays hidden under the guise of normalcy.
A decade ago, a small town in Kentucky was haunted by a murderer dubbed the Clovehitch Killer – named after the clovehitch knot left at each crime scene. The seemingly perfect Burnside family is torn apart when Tyler Burnside (Charlie Plummer) starts suspecting his father Don (Dylan McDermott) might just be the killer who eluded capture all those years ago. Teaming up with a local misfit named Kassi (Madisen Beaty), Tyler must find out who the killer is before he claims his next victim.
This is one odd, little potato cake of a movie. THE CLOVEHITCH KILLER is unconventional in every way, as it does a fantastic job of depicting a seemingly wholesome Midwest family in a completely genuine manner without a wink to the camera or to the audience. The Burnside family are devoutly religious and while there are a few moments of levity, none of it ever makes fun of that faith. This type of respect for religious folk is nothing like the sarcastic depictions in more mainstream Hollywood films like SAVED! or DONNIE DARKO. Here these devout beliefs are never made fun of but are meant to show how innocent and sometimes naïve Tyler is. This portrayal of Midwest living, especially in this current political climate, is refreshingly positive. Now, one might say this is not completely the case, as the film is about a sadistic killer living and thriving unknown to the rest of the Midwest town. It says something to the naivety and gullibility of the seemingly simple life the lead characters are living. Still, this feels much like an Amblin film without all of the annoying 80’s pop culture references seen in STRANGER THINGS and last year’s SUMMER OF 84. It’s this wholesomeness that is more likely to strum the heartstrings of nostalgia than cause more modern ire towards the meaty middle portion of the country we often see.
THE CLOVEHITCH KILLER is a slow burner, but never feels like it lags as the character work by Plummer, McDermott, and newcomer Madisen Beaty who offer up some astounding and brave performances. Still, once the film gets going and the weird and downright perverse stuff starts happening, it feels like more of a shock than one usually might act simply because the first hour is so damn normal. To say this film dives off the deep end into creepy-town is an understatement. By this time, the audience is hooked and wrapped up in the mystery Tyler is trying to solve, and no matter how freaky things get (and believe me, things get unbelievably freaky deeky), you just can’t look away.
THE CLOVEHITCH KILLER is unique in so many ways. It will be tough to find a more unconventional film this year. It’s like a John Waters or Todd Solondz film without the snark, but the same type of social commentary. It’s a film that sneaks up on you like a horny little Marv Albert, biting into you just when you begin to feel at home. Points to anyone who is old enough to get that reference. This is no jump scare shocker. THE CLOVEHITCH KILLER bores deep into the skull and you’ll feel the squirm long after the credits roll.