Combustible Celluloid Review - American Carnage (2022), Diego Hallivis, Julio Hallivis, Diego Hallivis, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Jenna Ortega, Allen Maldonado, Eric Dane, Brett Cullen, Jorge Diaz, Bella Ortiz, Yumarie Morales, Catherine McCafferty, Andrew Kaempfer, Paloma Bloyd
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With: Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Jenna Ortega, Allen Maldonado, Eric Dane, Brett Cullen, Jorge Diaz, Bella Ortiz, Yumarie Morales, Catherine McCafferty, Andrew Kaempfer, Paloma Bloyd
Written by: Diego Hallivis, Julio Hallivis
Directed by: Diego Hallivis
MPAA Rating: R for for some disturbing violence and gore, language throughout, some sexual references, nudity and drug use
Running Time: 101
Date: 07/15/2022
IMDB

American Carnage (2022)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Color Grind

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Nothing if not timely, the promising satire/comedy/horror movie American Carnage winds up spreading itself a bit too thin, never fully committing to any of its components; even its skewering of racism feels blunted.

A newly elected governor, Harper Finn (Brett Cullen), orders that all Latin/Mexican citizens be arrested. This includes JP (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.), who works at Lady Liberty's Burgers, and his sister Lily (Yumarie Morales), who was just accepted into college. They are separated and thrown into detention centers. JP is told that he can lighten his sentence by joining a program, volunteering to help out in an elderly care facility.

He arrives there, along with fellow prisoners Camila (Jenna Ortega), Chris (Jorge Diaz), Micah (Bella Ortiz), and "Big Mac" (Allen Maldonado), and facility head Eddie Davis (Eric Dane) informs them of the strict rules, including no escape attempts. It's not long before strange things begin to happen, with the old folks acting panicky, and one man turning into a zombie-like creature. Can JP and friends figure out what's happening before it's too late?

Beginning with an incendiary opening credits montage, American Carnage boldly sets itself up right away. The montage runs through images of Latin heroes, Latin stereotypes, and politicians and media outlets naming Latin citizens as enemies, being told to "go back to where you came from." As the movie gets underway, JP uses his quick wit to shame two privileged, white racists at the drive-thru window. But not long after that, things begin to soften up, sliding into goofy — but far from hilarious — comedy.

JP and his four new buddies might have been lifted from any raucous high school comedy, more concerned with causing trouble than solving problems. The horror elements come in late, and only sporadically, and feel tentative, as if unsure whether to fall on the side of funny, or of scary.

The final reveal (foreshadowed by an out-of-place movie poster in JP's room) is handled in a routinely surface way. It brings back a little of the racism commentary, showing how the villains can't even see Latins as human beings, but it still feels cheapened by one-note dialogue and silly visual FX. Finally, American Carnage fails to live up to its promise, too bland to be incendiary, and too soft for true carnage.

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