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Psychopaths (Overlook Film Festival Review)

Psychopaths (Overlook Film Festival Review)
05.01.2017by: Chris Bumbray
4 10

Psychopaths Mickey Keating Ashley Bell horror movie review

PLOT: Several serial killers wreak havoc throughout Los Angeles over the course of a single, blood-soaked night.

REVIEW: I didn’t care for PSYCHOPATHS, but let me preface this review by admitting that I admire director Mickey Keating, who I think is a promising genre voice. I was mixed on his last film, CARNAGE PARK, but there was enough style to it to work as a showcase for his talents, and while PSYCHOPATHS is a sadly obnoxious follow-up, in that it’s largely a plot-less collection of violent vignettes, there are still redeeming moments here and there.

The premise is never really established, although it seems to have something to do with the execution of a killer (Larry Fessenden), suggesting his spirit may be inhabiting multiple serial killers descending upon Los Angeles, but it’s left ambiguous to the point that even this interpretation is a reach. There’s really nothing to the story, if it could be even said there is one. Rather, it’s just a showcase for Keating’s neon-soaked style, evocative - or less charitably, imitative - of people like Nicolas Winding Refn and Adam Wingard.

Using his rep company, many of whom - such as Ashley Bell, Fessenden, and James Landry Hébert have shown up in several of his movies - everyone chews lots of scenery, with the performances as self-indulgent as the film itself. Who can blame them for going overboard? Each only has a mini-arc, with Ashley Bell an escaped mental patient, who briefly holes-up in an L.A home where she tries to live vicariously through her victims, while battling with her more murderous side. Bell is fun, and a talented performer, but too often this feels like a spoof of infamously over-the-top melodramas like SYBIL, or going into even deeper cuts, the horrifically cheesy THE LONELY LADY.

Psychopaths Mickey Keating Ashley Bell horror movie review

Meanwhile, Hébert is on a killing spree of his own, strangling women, only to pick up Angela Trimbur’s character, who’s a serial killer herself, and spends the rest of the movie torturing him by injecting him with psychedelics, shoving needles under his nails, and worse. The most intriguing part of the movie comes when Keating briefly drops his elliptical style to follow a masked killer, who we learn is the son of Fessenden, and was burned alive by his father - leading to him going on a killing spree of his own that, maybe, is motivated by vengeance - but for what and why is he targeting specific people? The grand guignol set-piece is a well-scored nightclub shoot-out, even if it’s a rip-off of TAXI DRIVER almost to the point of being a copy-cat, Still, it’s well-shot and assembled. It winds up leading to a confrontation with a dirty cop, played by Jeremy Gardener, the star and director of THE BATTERY, who is as wildly over-the-top as everyone else.

Now, it’s entirely possible some genre fans will love PSYCHOPATHS and its disregard for anything as prosaic as plot, but it demands a very open mind, something I wasn’t able to give them in this case. It may work for some, but to me it was an indulgent mess. That said, I still think Keating’s talented, and if he got his hands on a really great script, I’ve no doubt he could make a terrific film.

Extra Tidbit: PSYCHOPATHS does not yet have a release date.

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