An American Terror (2014) Review – Clique Click Bang

3.5/5

Skulls

Directed by Haylar Garcia Written by Haylar Garcia
Starring Joe Abplanalp, Troy Alan, Graham Emmons

84 mins - Horror - Release date: 19 July 2014 (South Korea)

Bullying is definitely a pervasive problem that’s now permeating into horror films as a theme or MacGuffin. We saw it last summer in Cybernatural (the title of which has recently been changed to Unfriended), and we’re seeing it again in Haylar Garcia‘s An American Terror. There are countless other movies that hit on this subject, dating back much further than Columbine, but we’re now more sensitive to the issues.

So, what would you do if you were a target of bullying as are our three main characters in An American Terror? Would you ignore the problem and hope it goes away? Would you fight back, win or lose? Or would you plot something a little more nefarious and evil? Something along the lines of Columbine?

The latter option is the popular choice for three friends Josh (Graham Emmons), Ray (Joe Abplanalp), and Sammy (Taylor Hulett), who get bullied for crossing the jocks’ football field because they’re forced to park away from school grounds in order to avoid harassment for driving mom’s minivan. Ray, the most volatile and dangerous of the three is also the most vocal toward the jocks, which results in a prompt face bashing and shower of spit. At the end of the same school day, the three friends return to the minivan to find the word “Fags” spray painted in massive letters on the side. This, as they say, was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

The following sequence of events in the movie probably shouldn’t be watched by young, impressionable audiences in similar circumstances without a proper education about the horrific consequences of such terrorist acts. As the three friends plan their violent revenge, the movie almost seems to glorify what they’re about to do. With an A-Team can-do and a Rocky-like montage, one might find himself or herself rooting for the revenge seekers.

an american terror killer

But exploring sensitive subjects is one of the purposes of film. Doing so opens up avenues of discussion and debate, and in this case might even provide channels of communication between kids and parents and/or teachers. In the end, the sequence was very well executed for the budget of the film.

As a horror movie, An American Terror doesn’t attempt to answer any of the bullying or revenge questions. Typical to the genre, the movie doesn’t forget what it is and only introduces a more serious element. As such, we quickly move to the *Texas Chain Saw Massacre-inspired, human dismemberment torture aspect of the movie. It gets downright gruesome and gory, so be prepared for some squirmy moments.

an american terror no eyelids

Spoilers Ahead
Things get a little unconventional after the torture scenes. Josh saves one of the clique kids he and his friends had targeted and has a change of heart about the revenge attack on the school. Most horror movies of this sort would show the escape and skip right to the aftermath of stopping the revenge plan, but here, we’re taken along for the ride as Josh races back to the school to confront and stop Sammy. It’s actually quite refreshing to see this change up in the horror beats.

an-american-terror box art

The Verdict:

An American Terror is a very modern and somewhat original movie for the genre. It’s also courageous for addressing such controversial topics and presenting them in a cautionary way. There are moments when the special effects are less than desirable, but none more so than when the masked villain meets his end -- that might be the worst special effect I’ve ever seen. Still, I’m going to recommend this exciting chiller and give it a bold 3.5 skulls.

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