2017, R, 85 min. Directed by Mickey Keating. Starring Ashley Bell, Larry Fessenden, Jeff Daniel Phillips.
REVIEWED By Richard Whittaker, Fri., Dec. 1, 2017
If film noir is bad people doing bad things for good reasons, then exploitation cinema is bad people doing bad things just because they can. The gory Night of Chaos ensues after mass murderer Starkweather (indie horror icon Fessenden) announces from the electric chair that “sometimes you’ve got to do something awful.” Upon his death, according to an unseen but interventionist narrator (Phillips), all the killers and ghouls of the world come out to play. The mayhem starts when they unwittingly start running into each other.
If there’s one word to describe rising provocateur Keating, it’s unrelenting. After the cold fear of his alien home invasion shocker Pod, Darling’s Polanski-esque breakdown, and hillbilly hell in Carnage Park, he dives into pure blood-splattered sleaze in the razor-opened vein of Rob Zombie, Natural Born Killers-era Oliver Stone, or David Lynch circa Lost Highway. He paints his fever dream in lurid greens and arson reds, as each titular psychopath crosses paths and inflicts their cruelest fetishes on each other. It’s often grisly and grotesque, and the cavalcade of misery inflicted upon and by a parade of detestable reprobates may be too grueling for many. If you’re not flinching, it’s only because you have your eyes covered.
But Keating’s no-rules narrative, and amped-up, super-stylized visuals are intoxicating and disturbing, as each killer gets their own captivating moment in the spotlight. None more so than another standout performance from Bell as a Fifties-obsessed fractured mind, who flips from nightclub chanteuse, to Donna Reed homemaker, to carving knife slasher in the blink of an eye. In a cruel, capricious, and arbitrary world, her madness may be the only thing that makes sense.