When you think of school/mass shootings, you automatically think of Columbine, Sandy Hook, or the movie theater shooting in Aurora, right? It’s very hard to side with or even feel any sympathy for the people who would commit such awful acts. Bullying and school shootings go hand-in-hand and are a very touchy subject. Which is why An American Terror made the bold move to create an indie horror film where the protagonists ARE the would-be shooters of their high school. And it f**kin’ worked. Ballsy.
Written and directed by Haylar Garcia, An American Terror follows three “outcasts”: Ray (Joe Abplanalp), Josh (Graham Emmons), and Sammy (Taylor Hulett), who have had enough of the bullying they receive constantly at their high school. After a night of planning, they decide on taking out every person who tormented them and they found the perfect time to do so at the school’s Homecoming dance. Without a proper arsenal, the three teens set their sights on a pro-gun redneck in order to steal his guns from his junkyard. Little do they know that what they stumble upon while there would reveal a worse horror than s**thead jocks and cheerleaders.
Yeah, that plot took a real turn there. The first half of the film is setting you up for these teens to wipe out the a**holes with deadly justice and BAM! that middle part of the film flips it all upside down. It’s not a total shocker to see that the junkyard guy isn’t going to be good, but when you do see him in full “killer mode”, it’s badass. From his mask to his “outfit”; it’s all freakin’ creepy as hell and, at times, disturbing. Also, don’t look to the crappy poster to see what his physical self looks like because they made the weird decision to use some random buff dude on the cover. Where most movies would just continue until the end with this plot, An American Terror takes your ass and throws it back into the still ongoing plan to ruin Homecoming. It all flowed pretty seamlessly which was impressive to me.
For it’s semi-low budget, An American Terror made good use of its makeup effects in the gorier scenes and had a pretty exceptional soundtrack consisting mostly of punk/industrial tunes. The acting was acceptable and the script wasn’t the best, but also didn’t take away from the terrifying intensity of the film. My biggest gripe is mostly their problems with color and lighting; it was all over the place and never bright enough in dark scenes and too bright in day scenes. Aside from that, I have minor personal issues with the film regarding plot and questions that I felt were left unanswered but it didn’t really affect my overall enjoyment of whole thing.
It’s refreshing to see a movie that wasn’t afraid to address bullying and school shootings but giving it a horror movie twist while also making sure to not make it offensive to these issues. I ended up like this film a lot more than I had anticipated, which is amazing. Basically, get An American Terror on whatever format you can. You won’t be disappointed.
AN AMERICAN TERROR is directed by Haylar Garcia and stars Graham Emmons, Louise MacDonald, Joseph Abplanalp, Taylor Hulett, Brian Thompson and Nathan Green.
Categories: Horror Movie Reviews