Film Review: PSYCHOPATHS (written & directed by Mickey Keating / World Premiere, Tribeca Film Festival)

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by Dmitry Zvonkov on April 26, 2017

in Film


Writer/director Mickey Keating’s Psychopaths doesn’t have much of a plot. We don’t sympathize with the characters. There’s little drama, despite the dramatic subject matter—torture, murder. Nobody changes. We don’t learn anything. There’s no arc. What there is is an abundance of style. Not disposable stylistics so often used by directors to mask a film’s deficiencies but real style that feels like it comes from a meaningful place. There is weight to what Mr. Keating is doing, and substance; it may be opaque and elusive and not fully realized in this movie but it’s there and it’s intriguing.

Before serial killer Henry Earl Starkweather (Larry Fessendena) is executed he predicts that the evil inside him will spread to others and chaos and mayhem will ensue. He’s correct. A man in a child’s mask (Sam Zimmerman) murders a cop (Jeremy Gardner). A serial strangler (James Landry Hebert) suffocates a young woman. A homicidal mental patient (Ashley Bell) terrorizes a couple in their home, all the time imagining herself a glamorous 1950s’ singer. While next door the couple’s neighbor (Angela Trimbur), who also happens to be a serial killer, tortures the man who was about to murder her. We get a narration that intentionally provides little guidance. We get hints that maybe the violence is revenge for something or other. But trying to make sense of Psychopaths isn’t the point. The movie is more like a macabre dance.

Ordinarily films in which torture and murder are the main attractions are not to my taste. But there’s something different about Psychopaths. There’s a kind of philosophy to the chaos, and we sense that its twenty-something director is following his artistic conscience. He takes joy in the fantasy of violence, as opposed to Rob Zombie, say, whose sadistic films wallow in its horrific reality. Psychopaths appears to strive for a higher purpose. And one can argue about whether or not what Mr. Keating is doing is worth doing. But what is clear is that he puts a great deal of love and care into this effort, investing it with something more than what one would expect to find in an ordinary slasher horror flick.

photos © Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival

Glass Eye Pix, High Window Films, Sorrows Entertainment
USA | 2017 | 85 min.
World Premiere at Tribeca Film Festival
for screening times, visit Tribeca

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