Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Now on Netflix: The Axe Murders of Villisca (2017)

The Axe Murders of Villisca (2017) - Directed by Tony E. Valenzuela; Written by Owen Egerton; Starring Robert Adamson, Jarrett Sleeper, Alex Frnka, Sean Whalen, Riley Bodenstab, Kellan Rhude.

By Kenny Howell

B movies, despite their known status as being a bit "bad", can be hard to do.

Directors have to commit to it being a B movie, never taking itself too seriously while also making it entertaining, often by going over the top.

IFC Midnight has had some successes in that realm the past few years, but I am not sure The Axe Murders of Villisca really fits that mold. It has the opportunity, but never goes over the top. It ends up being a pretty straight forward ghost story, when it could have been a lot more fun.

The title refers to a true life event, an entire family, even the children, were all bludgeoned to death with an axe in southwestern Iowa back in 1912. There were several trials, but it still remains unsolved to this day. However, the film doesn't tell that story, it moves 100 years later as some students head into the house to try to capture any supernatural activity. Something leftover from that house back in 1912 starts messing with them, and they descent pretty harshly, and it ends up being the best part of the film.

I almost would have liked to have seen a film about the actual events. They got Sean Whalen, which people probably remember from The People Under the Stairs and many other things over the years (Aaron Burr!), to play Reverend Kelly, a mentally ill preacher that many thought did the crimes at the time. He's one of the few that actually takes this film where it needs to go, which is way out there, but he doesn't get a ton of screen time. The leads play things pretty much straightforward, which holds it back. Still, Director Tony E. Valenzuela has a good eye, and creates quite a bit with the material, especially in the last third of the film. There is just always room to go a littler further.

The Axe Murders of Villisca is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: **

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