American Carnage

A Texas governor issues an executive order to detain all illegal immigrants and their US-born children, leading to the arrest of JP, his sister, and his mother. His options are to either be deported or volunteer at an elderly care facility and get the charges dropped. What seems like a simple job could be the end for JP and his fellow volunteers.

American Carnage is a satirical horror comedy directed by Diego Hallivis (Curvature, Game Time), who also co-write the film with Julio Hallivis. The premise of the film is compelling because it is relevant to the current political climate – and has been relevant for many years. It addresses how illegal immigrants and their children born in the United States are treated, especially in red states. The filmmakers hold no punches when broaching this subject matter, which is sure to deter more conservative viewers, but the over-the-top comedic nature makes the plot seem more accessible.

There is really a lot to enjoy with American Carnage. It takes the characters through increasingly strange situations on their journey to freedom. Even while some of these situations are truly horrific, the filmmakers convey things in such a way that is sure to bring laughter. That being said, this is not a film you want to read too much into when it comes to the science behind certain events. As a science-minded person, I couldn’t help but wonder at the plausibility of American Carnage. However, if audiences can overlook the scientific aspects and just go with the flow, this film is a fun ride filled with endearing characters, tons of laughs, and more than a few twists and turns.

The film has a wonderful cast of young actors, with one or two familiar faces thrown in. Jorge Lendeborg Jr (Bumblebee, Spider-Man: Homecoming) stars as JP. This character is so sweet, goofy, and caring that it’s almost impossible to not love him. Lendeborg is wonderful and is able to immediately endear the audience to JP. Recent horror fan-favorite Jenna Ortega (X, Scream) makes an appearance as fellow inmate/volunteer, Camila. Ortega doesn’t disappoint in this role, playing more of a bad-girl and adding some delightful sarcasm to the film. Other wonderful performances come from Allen Maldonado (Heels), Bella Ortiz (Chicago Med), and Eric Dane (Grey’s Anatomy).

Another element in American Carnage that is quite enjoyable is the practical effects. The filmmakers wisely chose to go practical with all the major special effects makeup. Most of this is used to create old-age makeup looks that look great, but also lends to the comedy of the film. Most of the makeup effects earlier in the film have a more realistic look to them, while in the final those effects take on a more whacky, humorous tone. Again, some audience members will have to look past the science behind these looks, but the makeup effects fit with the plot perfectly.

American Carnage is a relevant political horror film wrapped in a satirical comedy. Hallivis has created a film that is guaranteed to be polarizing, especially between different political parties. Yet those who agree with the themes in American Carnage are sure to get a good laugh from the film. The performances from all the actors are great, instantly making the audience either love or hate each character. The icing on this horror cake is the practical effects, which not only look great, but add an extra layer of comedy as well. If you’re on the hunt for a horror film that tackles important topics in an accessible, satirical way, then this is the film for you.


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