The trailer for The Clovehitch Killer seeks to unravel the facade of the idyllic, small-town American family with the simplest of tools: doubt. It’s insidious, toxic, and subtle.
This IFC Midnight release aims to sell its viewer on the slow burn. Written by Christopher Ford (Robot & Frank) and directed by Duncan Skiles (Our RoboCop Remake), the film’s official synopsis gives us the stakes while revealing none of the mystery:
A shocking revelation turns a teenage boy’s world upside down in this chilling look at the evil that can lurk below even the most wholesome surface. Tyler Burnside (Charlie Plummer) is a Boy Scout, a volunteer at his local church, and the dutiful son of an upstanding, community leader dad (Dylan McDermott). Only one thing troubles the quiet Kentucky town he lives in: the unsolved murders—in which ten women were brutally tortured and killed by a psychopath known as Clovehitch—that rocked the community more than a decade ago. When Tyler discovers a cache of disturbing images in his father’s possession, he begins to suspect that the man he trusts most in the world may be Clovehitch—and that his deadly rampage may not be over…
You’ll remember McDermott’s failure to win father of the year as Dr. Ben Harmon in “Murder House,” American Horror Story’s outstanding first season. But the father figure he plays here is quite the opposite. He’s active in church, leader of his son’s scout troop, and fully armed with your standard dad jokes and awkward timing. In his father’s shed, Tyler finds disturbing diagrams and pictures of women tied up. Tyler’s (an earnest-looking Charlie Plummer) discovery threatens his father’s carefully crafted image.
Tyler’s suspicions are fueled by Kassi (Madison Beaty), who is surprisingly well versed on the Clovehitch murders. The early, quick clip of his father teaching knot tying to his scout troop echoes as we’re plunged into paranoia with Tyler. All he knew seems to be coming apart, and every interaction with his father seems only to prove his greatest fear.
Despite Kassi’s insistence and all the evidence to the contrary, Tyler still can’t be certain that his father is the killer. Kassi says to Tyler, “Maybe you don’t know what a normal dad is like.” A clovehitch refers to the type of knot tied around a post at every murder scene, but it’s easy to see how knot tying parallels Tyler’s internal conflict.
Our very own Chris Aitken’s review of The Clovehitch Killer speaks to the tense journey of discovery we’re taken on during the film:
[W]ith The Clovehitch Killer, there are no warnings. Everything remains uncertain. The horror unfolds before our very eyes. The tension is built up organically without relying on tired devices.
Tyler’s final question in the trailer embodies his search for truth: “Where are we going?” His father’s response, “We’ll be there soon, bud,” speaks to the inevitability of asking too many questions.
Is Tyler’s father the killer? Will Tyler’s digging lead to a bigger, more shocking discovery? Will the sun shine bright on this old Kentucky mystery? The Clovehitch Killer is set for limited release on November 16th. Share your thoughts with us on social media.