The Clovehitch Killer is a new thriller film from director Duncan Skiles and starring Dylan McDermott and Charlie Plummer. It follows a picture-perfect family whose world is turned upside down when the son begins obsessing about a local serial killer.
This film is very unique and not at all what you would expect from the marketing. It seems like it is going to be a much more straightforward horror-mystery, whereas in actuality, it is a slow-burn thriller. Ultimately, the direction in which the film is taken is far more intelligent and refreshing than what had been expected.
Admittedly, the first thirty minutes or so of the film feel somewhat slow, as it establishes the characters, themes, and foreshadowing of the film. However, after that point, it begins to get crazy until it reaches one of the most insane and shocking climaxes of the year.
Part of what is so surprising about this film was its ability to craft suspense out of the simplest of conversations. Even totally normal, mundane conversations were made to be highly discomforting because of the way in which they were shot and performed. On the page, a lot of the dialogue may not have been that impressive. However, in execution, it works really well.
The film also takes a nonlinear twist. In an almost Hitchcockian move, the film frequently switches protagonists from the son to the patriarch of the family and back. This allows the audience to see different perspectives of the story, which is a thoroughly interesting idea. This also builds a lot of suspense, as the shifts occurred right after a big development took place in the plot.
The film is weirdly funny at times too. Many scenes follow the progression from uncomfortable to funny to unsettling to scary. Again, the delivery was key to the success of the film. There’s an obvious element of irony in the story, and that helps in many ways; however, it becomes really enjoyable because of some of the quirkier elements in the conversations.
If it wasn’t quite obvious already, the two lead actors give wonderful performances in the film. Dylan McDermott absolutely nails his role, giving what is likely a career-best turn. He is totally believable in the role, doing a great job of being both charismatic and mysterious. Charlie Plummer seems like he’s on a hot streak too, this being his third great turn in a row. His reactions are surprisingly organic, selling much of the film’s conflict.
Overall, The Clovehitch Killer is a really well-made thriller. It may take a bit to truly get into it, but once you do, you will be completely engulfed and spellbound by the mystery.
The Clovehitch Killer is in theaters and on demand beginning November 16.