Based on true events, 16 year-old Jamie falls in with his mother’s new boyfriend and his crowd of self-appointed neighborhood watchmen, a relationship that leads to a spree of torture and murder.
Yet another based-on-a-true-story horror flick. Hard to believe, but the actual events are even more horrific* than this movie reveals. What the movie reveals is graphic enough – and difficult to watch.
The movie is slow, especially compared to the standard American thriller. The pace dulls the sense of growing menace a bit, but the cast does a fair job keeping us on edge.
Particularly good is Daniel Henshall as John Bunting. We meet him as an amiable suitor to young Jamie’s mother, and he seems a welcome, stable addition to the family. Bunting presents as a caring protector, though we see his darkness simmering just below the surface. His emerging psychopathy is chillingly portrayed by this talented actor.
If this were a work of fiction, I would have criticized it for having a “lazy script”, merely throwing in bits of blood & gore to shock the audience. Knowing the true story, however, I find I am grateful for the director’s restraint in merely showing bits of blood & gore to convey what was much, much greater horror.
This is not an enjoyable film. It is not one I would ever watch again. From a critical standpoint, however, it was well done and accomplished what a movie should – it told the story. It also left me especially disturbed in the knowledge that Bunting was able to infect those around him with his evil; ultimately 6 people were directly involved in the murders and many more knew but didn’t report them. One violent psychopath is scary, a pack of them is terrifying. Whether they were charmed by him into participation, or intimidated into it, I don’t know – either way, my skin will be crawling at the thought for a long time.
In my circle, this isn’t the type of story that is well received, so only 2 on the scale. You can see by the Rotten Tomatoes numbers below how well reviewed it was by critics & audience alike.
* The documentary on YouTube was made prior to the release of many sealed documents. Therefore, it is possible some info made it into the movie that was not referenced in the documentary.
Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 86%; Audience 70%