Every town has a history. But when you live in a town that has a history of terror, what would you do to protect your family from a serial killer? What if you believed that the same serial killer who terrorized you might be a member of your own family? Those are just a few of the questions being raised in the the new IFC Midnight film, THE CLOVEHITCH KILLER.
When Tyler Burnside (Charlie Plummer) sneaks his dad’s truck out for a late night date, his date Amy (Emma Jones) finds a disturbing piece of pornography in the truck that she believes is Tyler’s. After the uncomfortable encounter, Amy begins to tell Tyler’s friends from school and church that Tyler is a pervert and a backsliding Christian. And while Tyler is clearly concerned about his reputation, he becomes more concerned that his father Don (Dylan McDermott) may be the Clovehitch Killer, the serial rapist and killer who used elaborate knots to tie up his victims first.
As Tyler begins to dig deeper into his fathers “interests” he strikes up a friendship with Kassi (Madisen Beaty) who his church friends consider weird and evil because of her fascination with the Clovehitch Killer. Together they try to solve the string of brutal murders all while Tyler tries to remain hopeful that he is wrong about his father.
Written by Christopher Ford and directed by Duncan Skiles, this film is a is a suspenseful thriller about how quotidian life gets disrupted by evil. It is clearly inspired by the true crime documentaries and television shows that so many people are consumed by in preset day.
The cast all delivers strong and believable performances, but Dylan McDermott really turns up the creepiness factor for this film as his disappears completely into the role of Don Burnside. Charlie Plummer does a fantastic job as a young man coming of age in the midst of the possible destruction of his family. And Madisen Beaty’s turn as a brash young woman whose obsession with the Clovehitch Killer makes her an outsider rings true and avoids the tropes of goth girl or strange emo kid.
While this film is wonderfully shot and is truly suspenseful, the pacing is a bit slow overall. With a runtime of 110 minutes, this film definitely felt longer at times. Perhaps that was intentional to show the pacing of everyday life, but it still effected my engagement with the film at times.
This film is not only a suspenseful thriller but also addresses issues of hypocrisy in religious communities as well as the struggles of discovering the reality of family as childhood fades and adulthood looms.
THE CLOVEHITCH KILLER is not rated at this time, has a runtime of 110 minutes and is distributed by IFC Midnight. This film will have a limited release in theaters beginning on November 16, 2018.