If my research is correct ‘American Terror’, a film which book ends a very effective torture basement psycho slasher section with a high-school massacre framing device, has been deserving for a sensible release for a while.

Thanks to Silversheaf Media films the movie is now able on VOD. But is it any good?

Yes, refreshingly so actually.

The plot of the film follows a group of contrasting students, the jocks and the popular kids vs. the goth/punk/stoner, not so popular kids. You know the usual clichés. Well in this film the former ridicule the later, and revenge is plotted – a rather extreme high-school massacre to be exact. Here we see American Terror’s first twist. At this stage, you could be forgiven into thinking that it is going to be a simple stalk and slash movie where we see our raged wannabe anarchists gunning down their tormentors in all sorts of bad taste fashion. If I’m honest, I didn’t want to see that – bit too similar to current affairs for my taste – thankfully, how the plot develops is far better!

Looking for weapons the group find themselves in the basement torture chamber of one of the coolest slasher stalkers I’ve seen in ages – The American Terror! (I don’t know if that’s what he’s actually called, but hey, if there is any chance this franchises, you heard it here first!).

Here I got more than what I expected, and it’s awesome.

Reminiscent of every ‘torture porn’ movie ever, what the film perhaps lacks in originality it certainly makes up for in atmosphere and intensity. Once they are in that dungeon it’s all systems go for the carnage! The gore in the movie is quite strong, and nicely stylised. There is a rather grim eyelid removal, some mechanised dissection, a proposed acid bath and some nice looking prosthetic gore-effects on the killer’s previous victims and then there is the killer himself!

Like all the best, he’s the strong silent type!

Adorned in some odd prosthetic looking wings, his grimy belly protruding like a giant hairy tumour covering what I can only hope was a pair of skin coloured speedo’s! Upon his face, the mask of a plague doctor – symbolic perhaps of how he views his victim and their social scourge; or perhaps he just realised it made him look like a badass.

In terms of the violence, there is nothing genre pushing, and despite some variations on a theme you have seen it all before, by and large, but it is what we keep coming back for isn’t it? And the effects are certainly good enough to put it up there with the best. Similarly, the film’s cinematography has a very grimy feel about it, and the set design is pretty much perfect with enough lighting so that you can see what’s going on, but with enough darkness to make the whole chamber feel claustrophobic and disorientating. The film has been liked to ‘House of 1000 corpses’ and it’s not a bad comparison, certainly has that more brutal edge than most modern slashers. Either way from the minute our hapless extremists set foot into the killers lair I was having a blast.

Indeed, the word blast, is a good point to bring in my only major criticism of the film – the final act, and one that sees the movie resume the whole ‘high school massacre’ plotline that I hoped the film had had the sense to leave behind once the slaughter started. The ending is a major pace killer, and to be honest the whole massacre context is going to be a little divisive regardless, and to think that trying to deal with a high school massacre context in a horror movie wouldn’t be, is a little naïve.

I don’t think any offence was meant, and certainly it isn’t a justification style of film, but still, once the horror section is finished we do see a ham-fisted tension ending where a kid marches on into high-school with homemade explosives hoping to become (in)famous, driven to this extent by bullying. I feel the real-life tragedies are somewhat more complex, and should not be trivialised in such a way. But, hey, that might be just me.

That said, unless you are easily offended, I think more viewers will easily overlook this little issue, although thank God, they got rid of the original artwork and tagline! Overall this is a movie which I can easily recommend. It’s already got a good rep in the horror community, and you can add my blood-stained seal of approval to that also.

‘American Terror’ can be found here: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/movie/an-american-terror/id1200923406

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