American Carnage

July 15, 202240/1002516 min
Starring
Jenna Ortega, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Allen Maldonado
Written by
Diego Hallivis and Julio Hallivis
Directed by
Diego Hallivis
Run Time
1h 38min
Release Date
July 15th, 2022
Overall Score
Rating Summary

                  Opening up with a montage of political speeches and news broadcasts American Carnage sets the table to show us the world we are in. While the rhetoric is pretty hostile when we first meet JP ( Jorge Lendeborg Jr. ) he is doing his job on just another evening at a fast food restaurant, being the nice guy he is he decides to stay late and even an unruly customer can’t break JP’s vibe.

                While work has its ups and downs, at home JP is about to celebrate his sister Lily ( Yumarie Morales) getting into Colombia, but the night has something else planed for them. At that moment ICE breaks down the door and takes JP, Lily, and everyone there away. It is then we learn of a new executive order that all people living illegally in California are to be deported and their family members held for aiding and abiding them. For JP and Lily that lands them in a detention center where after some time they are given a choice and a way out. What JP is told is he can wait it out as his case works its way through the courts, or he can work for a few months helping the elderly. Of course option B is the choice and JP and a group are sent to a retirement home to serve their sentence.

At this point the screenplay written by Julio Hallivis and Diego Hallivis, the latter also directing already has some holes in it. Mainly that has to do with the raid which is ordered by a state governor and enforced by a federal agency, which is of course not how that works. While it just is a plot point and well this is a movie, anyone who is aware of the law might get frustrated. At this retirement home JP is joined by Camila (Jenna Ortega), Big Mac (Allen Maldonado),  Micah (Bella Ortiz) , and Chris (Jorge Diaz) as they all try and do their time and get out. It doesn’t take long though for them to all notice things are a little fishy where they are at and it is only amplified when Chris turns up missing. After some more strange clues emerge, JP starts to have his suspicions and when he discovers the truth he finds out that things are far worse than what he believed.

American Carnage is an entertaining film, its problems lie in that it can’t figure out what it wants to be. In the beginning  it is all about race and immigration and when it gets to the third act most of that is gone, only to reappear around the climax. In the middle a soft horror film breaks out and we are given a taste of what could had made this a better movie. What started out as a smart film with something to say seems to lose IQ points as the movie gets longer in its run time. Things would have gone much smoother and more interesting if they had leaned into the horror aspect and added some more dark humor, because what we get only half works. Ultimately American Carnage is worth the watch and while it does some things right it falls short of what it could have been.

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