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'American Carnage' review: Bloody B-movie satire has some bite

Courtesy of Saban Films


Political and social satires must find the line between relevance and attitude. Slip in either one of the categories and it can alter or change the outcome of the movie. “American Carnage” a new B-movie horror comedy with a satirical edge directed and co-written by Julio Hallivis has its tongue firmly in cheek and touches on a variety of subjects, namely the constant swarm of right-wing politicians backing their entire campaigns on border control. But it takes that premise to extreme, bloody heights, purposefully checking several absurd boxes in pursuit of a meaning we already know is inherently baked within the screenplay. It’s not fooling anyone, though I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t sort-of fun.

The premise is ludicrous to begin with, “American Carnage” is set in a dystopian world where the political divide has grown overwhelmingly, and the country is on the brink of civil war. Oh, wait – maybe it’s not so far removed from our current predicament after all? Still, at least our government hasn’t issued executive orders ordering the search and seizure around children of undocumented immigrants (at least, not yet) and sentencing them to prison time unless they “volunteer” to help with a shady government sanctioned elderly program.

That’s exactly what happens to JP (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.), Camila (Jenna Ortega), Big Mac (Allen Maldonado) and countless others who show up to work under the supervision of Eddie (Eric Dane), a warden for the old-folks home which resembles more of an insane asylum than a retirement home. It’s evident in the early moments something is off about the patients these teenagers have been tasked to look after. They bite, squirm, and scream without being prompted and the orderlies sedate them regularly with a thick liquid. And if the teenagers step out of line? They’re never seen again.

The final third of “American Carnage” lives up to the title which I won’t reveal here, but it’s more intrinsic and literal than you might imagine. Ortega and Lendeborg steal the show playing the anointed leaders determined to uncover the truth of their current predicament which yields some wild discoveries. In all, “American Carnage” is a scathing, in your face, indictment of the current political landscape that has its cake and eats it too. Hallivis might seem content with being a little too on the nose with his and co-writer Diego Hallivis sprawling take on how immigration influences capitalism, but at least they spice it up.

Grade: B-

AMERICAN CARNAGE opens in select theaters and VOD Friday, July 15th.


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