27 September 2023

The Clovehitch Killer

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

Director: Duncan Skiles, Defiant Screen Entertainment.

Cast: Dylan McDermott, Charlie Plummer, Samantha Mathis.

We’re presented with a picture-perfect portrait of an American family … then slowly director Skiles craftily pulls it all apart. ‘Every man, every family, has a secret’ and evil is certainly closer than you think.

The title refers to a serial killer who murdered at least 10 women a decade ago, but since has gone silent. The psychopath is known as Clovehitch.

Tyler Burnside, 16, (Plummer, All The Money In The World, Lean On Pete) is a dutiful son, a Boy Scout and a volunteer at his local church. He lives with his devout Christian family in the small town of Clarksville, Kentucky. His father Don (McDermott, American Horror Story, Olympus Has Fallen) is an upstanding, community leader.

After Tyler discovers a cache of disturbing images of bondage pornography in a truck belonging to his father, he begins to suspect that the man he trusts most in the world may be Clovehitch. Tyler is concerned that the vicious unsolved murders may not be over.

He further inspects Don’s private shed and finds a Polaroid photograph of a tied-up woman, along with explicit magazines, which make him suspicious that his father is the killer.

Some teenagers in Tyler’s Scout troop and church group exclude him, but he makes a friend in Kassi (Madisen Beaty), a teen outcast and amateur Clovehitch historian. Together, they uncover blueprints to a sex dungeon in the crawlspace in Tyler’s house, and link the photograph to a known Clovehitch victim.

After Don becomes suspicious of Tyler’s behaviour, he confronts him about what he has found. A creepy context and the enormity of the killer deed comes to the forefront when it’s said, “You father has his own hobbies”.

Yet Tyler can’t bring himself to believe in his father’s guilt. Skiles skillfully frolics with our own questions about his culpability or blamelessness for a while. Performances are strong, with believable tensions. McDermott gives a chilling performance.

Tell us the name of the town where the Burnside family live. PS News has been given eight – yes, eight DVDs – of The Clovehitch Killer by Defiant Screen Entertainment to give away to our lucky readers. This is the first time PS News has been given so many copies of the one film to give away in a single competition.
Entries should be sent to [email protected] by next Monday, 17 June 2019. Names of the winners will be announced in Frank Cassidy’s PS-sssst…! column next week.

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