Director/Writer by Diego Hallivis (Curvature, Game Time)
Co-writer and brother Julio Hallivis (The Devil Below, Trespassers).
Starring Jorge Lendeborg Jr. (Bumblebee, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Love, Simon),
Jenna Ortega (X, Scream), Allen Maldonado (“The Wonder Years,” “Black-ish“), Bella Ortiz (“Chicago Med“), Jorge Diaz (Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, “The Long Road Home”) and Eric Dane (“Euphoria,” “Grey’s Anatomy”).
The children of undocumented immigrants are the special of the day in the eyes of governor Harper Finn (Brett Cullen). After issuing an executive order to arrest the children of undocumented immigrants. New detainees have the offer to have their charges dropped. They can volunteer to provide care to the elderly in a program. This program is known as the “Elderly Americas Tolerance Understanding” project. This facility is very different from any other that houses senior citizens. These volunteers discover that the governor and the facility’s supervisor have cooked up a depraved conspiracy. This plan endangers the young and the old in this twisted thriller-comedy.
The Hallivis brothers intertwine realistic discrimination and comedy. They do this in such a way that doesn’t push the film’s message down people’s throats. Yes, America has its share of “Anti-Mexican” prejudice. This film spotlights this through the eyes of Mexican-Americans. It also does this while putting a story full of horror/comedy elements at the forefront. The film is fun, while still getting its message across.
Director Diego Hallivis says this about the film
“As a Mexican American living in the United States, I have been inspired to tell a story and make sure the cruel separation camps we currently have in the US are not forgotten. This is a conversation that cannot fade into the background, as so many important topics often do. I wanted to tell a story that used horror as a metaphor to reflect the reality that many Latinos get put into a system where they are treated less than human and this is not by accident, this is by design. It was clear that the best way to tell a story as powerful as this, while still making it fun, was by using genre. I wanted to push the limits of what to show on the screen while also finding moments of levity to keep the audience in a constant state of tension and release, mixing horror and comedy. For me, AMERICAN CARNAGE is a way to talk bring light to a harsh reality in a form of uplifting escapism.“
The interactions between the main stars are natural and come off as very believable. Jorge Lendeborg Jr. is a joy to watch as JP. Not far behind him is the very-talented new “scream queen” Jenna Ortega as Camila. She shows off her acting chops here as a smart-mouthed teen and helps propel the story forward. Big Mac (Allen Maldonado) whose name has a funny backstory is the film’s comic relief. He gets all the juicy and funny lines from everyone involved. The final two players in this group are Micah (Bella Ortiz). She’s a gluten-free vegan democrat socialist. Then there’s Chris (Jorge Diaz) who suffers from chronic anxiety and delusional paranoia.
Eddie (Eric Dane) runs The Riverside facility. When he’s on-screen he oozes a fine line between nice and vermin. The program has strict rules. They is no contact with the outside world and ankle bracelets are a must. This is to ensure participants are in their rooms by curfew. When Chris (Jorge Diaz) attempts a poorly planned escape, he goes missing. The group’s told that he is no longer in the program and is on his way back to the detention center. This is when things start to get weird.
Beyond the social commentary and comedy, American Carnage incorporates great horror effects. There is some CGI, but when possible they use practical effects which is always a plus. There are a few scenes that harken back to films like John Carpenter’s The Thing. Keep an eye out for Stuntman Troy “Twisty” James. Watch out for his body-bending work in the film, you’ll know it when you see it.
American Carnage features a mixture of many genres. Although the message here is a very serious one, the film stands on its own as one damn tasty horror/comedy.
In Theaters and On Demand July 15, 2022