The Clovehitch Killer is just the sort of sneaky good movie you need to clean the palette once in a while. I end up watching a LOT of movies these days and, as such, I watch a lot of mediocre to regrettable films. Films that seem to almost be made on accident by people being held for ransom. Ah, but then there comes that rare ‘goodie’ in the batch that reminds me that movies are pretty darn fun.
Well, I mean, I always knew that. I just consume a lot of garbage.
Clovehitch Killer is set in a town that was once the home of a series of brutal killings that got national attention and changed this place forever. Every year the town gathers to pay tribute to the women that were brutalized and to remind themselves of the horror they all survived. The film focuses on a teen boy who is part of a very strict religious family and who is also part of a scouting troupe. The boy is at the age where he is discovering the world outside of his family and the church and one night when he sneaks out in his father’s truck to meet up with a girl. What the girl finds in the truck, a folded image from a porn magazine, ends the romance and quickly puts the label of Perv on the boy. What he knows though and no one else will believe is that that image wasn’t his. It was his fathers. In search of why his father had the picture in his truck the boy starts looking for answers and discovers far more than he could have imagined.
This is a sneaky good thriller that has its feet firmly planted in horror. There is a sense of dread that permeates the film as the boy learns more and more about his father and you start to see how high the stakes are. The most upsetting thing in the film though isn’t any sort of violence or bloodshed but how ‘real’ this family feels. They are nutty, to be sure, but they feel real. This is a family that loves one another and cares about each other and as the boy digs deeper and deeper into the truth about his father. The acting is fantastic here with Dylan McDermitt going all in as the father. Man, seriously, this is whole cast puts on a masterclass of acting and raising tension through it. The story itself serves as a sort of noose around the viewer’s neck that slowly, slowly, slowly tightens until a series of events towards the climax that raise the stakes even higher.
There are the usual questionable actions and judgement moments here, but you need to watch the entire film to have a full feel for everything going on here and which start to explain things better.
This isn’t a perfect film, there are some aspects and moments that strain credulity, but wow is this wonderfully crafted and realized with a story that serves only to twist the knife deeper and deeper. Or in this case, tightens the knots. Not your usual horror fare but, as I said earlier, more along the thriller line but boy is this a solid movie and a freaky one at that with more than a few surprises up its sleeve.
Fans of true crime will love this.
4 out of 5