AMERICAN GOTHIC ** USA 2017 Dir: Stuart Connelly. 73 mins
Writer-director Stuart Connelly’s genre-bending movie is yet another cinematic spin on Grant Wood’s 1930 painting of the same name. Although it also hinges on the machinations of a demented rural couple, it isn’t nearly as much fun as the John Hough’s 1980’s AMERICAN GOTHIC, a warped slasher movie with Rod Steiger and Yvonne De Carlo.
Set in 2011 and boasting pointless “Based on a true story” claims, it opens with two prisoners, chained together, emerging as the only survivors of a bus crash while in transit. They take refuge at the farmhouse of a homely, God-fearing couple (Ned Luke, Susannah Hart Jones) who turn out to be full of surprises, starting with the young woman they keep locked up in the cellar. A fairly obvious cat and mouse game ensues, with silly, self-conscious dialogue (“This is some Grade A Texas Chainsaw shit”) and a total absence of anyone to root for. Jones is enjoyable as the politely deranged matriarch who acts as judge, jury and executioner for the morally dubious folks unfortunate enough to wander into their neck of the woods, but everybody else is beige at best. Measuring up at a mere 64 minutes minus credits, it barely has enough plot to sustain even that meagre running time.
Review by Steven West