My main complaint with the absolute influx of streaming services is that there is an abundance of content out there, and it can be hard to dig through the cinematic junk to find that must see flick. If you’re a mystery/thriller enthusiast, The Clovehitch Killer, headlined by Charlie Plummer (Lean on Pete) and Dylan McDermott (American Horror Story), should be added to your list.
Tyler (Plummer) is a reserved, insightful boy scout whose life is highly influenced by his loving but domineering father Don (McDermott). Growing up in a low-income religious family (Pump Up The Volume’s Samantha Mathis co-stars as his mom), Tyler is living a reasonably happy and understandably sheltered childhood.
But there is darkness that lingers over this seemingly small and deceptively idyllic town, as the Clovehitch Killer, a person who murdered multiple people, has never been caught. After discovering pornography in his father’s vehicle and shed, Tyler gradually puts the pieces together and imagines the worst.
Believing his father might be the serial killer, he enlists the aid of Kassi (Madisen Beaty), a teenage outcast who is probably the town expert on the Clovehitch case. Tyler’s befriending of Kassi, along with a recent misunderstanding with his colleagues, leads to his own estrangement in town. But that ultimately doesn’t matter, as the pair are determined to find out if dear old Don is really the man behind the killings.
Marking the debut of editor Duncan Skiles, The Clovehitch Killer is powered by a well written and riveting screenplay from Skiles and Christopher Ford (Spider-Man: Homecoming). Though the premise begs for quick cutting jump scare tactics and exploitative violence, these lowest common denominator thrills have nothing to do with The Clovehitch Killer. Skiles prefers to approach his story, at least for three quarters of the film, as a pure mystery. Having patience with his narrative, along with delving deep into each of the main characters’ interior lives, also elevates the film beyond a pure genre, B-movie.
While there’s a lot of positive aspects behind the B-movie dynamics, The Clovehitch Killer eschews this tropes and instead gives us a compellingly rendered story that will chill and horrify you to the bone.
McDermott, who delivered underrated work as a troubled loner in Josie, gives a powerhouse performance as Don, and it’s actually one of this year’s finest works. Hopefully, IFC Midnight and good word of mouth gives some kind of push for McDermott’s work, as it’s definitely awards worthy.
Plummer and Beaty are also great as the mismatched bedfellows attempting to get to the truth, much to their own peril. Their chemistry is absolutely organic, and hopefully both actors will work together on future projects (by the end of the film, I was highly invested in their characters’ respective fates).
Running at 109 minutes, there’s not an ounce of fat in this lean and mean narrative, and Skiles’ storytelling precision is a talent which should continue to put him in good stead for future projects,
The Clovehitch Killer is in theaters today and is also available on VOD and Digital HD.
Check out our CinemAddicts discussion on The Clovehitch Killer below: