Film Review: Amerikan Holokaust (2013)

Amerikan Holokaust is an independent ‘fuck you’ to mainstream cinema, whilst kicking it squarely in the stones.

AH poster

The basic plot for this nihilistic piece of hell follows two serial killer/rapists, Michael Mashburn (Jules Sceiro) and Antwan Mercer (Bob Glazier), as they kidnap, rape, torture and invariably kill just about every female they come, and cum, across. Nothing especially new, in this respect, as it blends Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and August Underground style ferocity in its execution. This is not an issue though, as the film itself, which is shot hand-held style, manages to deliver the goods, and then some.

I’ll tell you right now that it is not easy viewing, even for the so-called hardcore out there. There’s disturbing gore aplenty on display, with innards ripped out, eyeballs popped out and so forth, but it is when the film introduces an incredibly graphic sexual element to the violence that it really hits hard. This is also one of the film’s strengths; it does not shy away from anything, aside from maybe the cannibalization of a baby, which is mentioned but not shown. Would you want to see that anyway?

Where Amerikan Holokaust stands apart from many other films of its ilk, is in its casting. So often the leads, or killers, are twenty-something friends of the director, but not here. Mashburn is, at a guess, in his fifties, and Mercer is even older. They make for a strange pairing, yet they pull off both roles with an unerring realism. Mashburn’s rants sometimes go on a bit, and are very reminiscent of Bill Moseley’s monologues in Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses, but they also shed a little light on the reasoning and motives behind these heinous crimes.

Amerikan Holokaust is low-budget and downright filthy, yet director Chris Woods delivers a truly gritty and disturbing movie, which belies its meager budget. First off, the film has a script, and a fairly decent one at that. Couple that with the convincing lead performances and you have yourself a film that totally out-grinds all these so-called modern faux-grindhouse flicks. This is a fucking descent into Hell, and it’s plastered across the screen. There’s no hype or bullshit marketing behind Amerikan Holokaust, although I can see it garnering quite the reputation over the coming months, just an incredibly dark, depressing and bleak movie. There is humor, but you’ll hate yourself for laughing at it, of that you can be sure.

Visually, aside from the hand-held style of filming, there are also some stellar special effects, courtesy of Marcus Koch, on display here, some of which will make you gag.

Amerikan Holokaust reminded me of just why independent cinema can be so goddamned exhilarating. Even though it wasn’t especially original it kept me watching, as I had no idea of what to expect next. Woods pushes the envelope throughout, hitting you with a barrage of depravity and ultra-violence, not to mention Mashburn’s disturbing ramblings at the camera.

There’ll be some who love this film, and a lot that hate it, but quite honestly this is the sort of film that cares not. It is what it is; and that’s a hate-filled orgy of violence, and I thought it was damned good.

Author: Jude Felton

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