Director/Writer Haylar Garcia is the new name to watch out for in horror. Fresh from Colorado, his ‘An American Terror’ while being part ‘Bowling for Columbine’, part ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ with a touch of ‘The Goonies’ brings a refreshing look at the genre while having an ending rare in horror films we see today.
Three outcast, high school teens are being bullied by everyone at school including the football team so they plan on seeking violent revenge at the homecoming dance. Little do they know what consequences planning this event will play on all of their lives.
After being hit, spit on and having their minivan spray painted with a homophobic slur, they decide to take matters in their own hands, planning their scheme in one of the teens parent’s basement. Their plan includes planting shrapnel bombs and a mass shooting. Upon seeing a pickup truck in a driveway with NRA and other gun support bumper stickers they decide to seek out the owner, thinking that would be a good place to purchase the firearms.
It turns out that the owner of the truck runs a junkyard and hides a dark secret which two of the teens are soon to find out. At the junkyard they break into a camper which has a couch that covers a secret opening that leads into an underground labyrinth. They had dispatched the owner to the location of the high school football quarterback to pick up some non-existing junk (thinking they would have enough time to steal the guns while he was gone), but soon find out the owner is coming back as he had forgot he was receiving an important shipment that day. When he arrives the two teens have nowhere to hide but in the secret underground chambers.
The teens soon find out what secrets are hidden in this dark place when they discover a torture room filled with instruments covered in blood. The owner, a large hillbilly looking man comes back to the junkyard and brings the “package” to the underground where the teens see what it contains inside. It turns out to be the quarterback’s girlfriend who’s the head cheerleader.
The teens have much more to worry about then the homecoming combat mission as they need to find a way to escape a sadistic and ritualistic killer who has strange fetishes and wears a weird get-up including a large bird beak mask. Each killing is gruesome, yet symbolic and the teens have to find a way not to become his next victim.
This is a great story about revenge, symbolism and morals. The story is dark, making us almost want to cheer the ones being bullied, as are the underground tunnels. The killings and torture are creative and each have a significant meaning, such as someone having their eyelids cut off so that they can now see, meaning they can’t close their eyes and escape reality. There’s so much going on in the film, yet it’s simple to sit-back and just follow. The setting and the cinematography make you feel like you’re in the labyrinth with them, being cut off from the outside world and fearing for your life. The soundtrack adds to the gothic/punk atmosphere and scenes of rebellion and desperation are thrown in for good measure. Will the teens escape and get their revenge or will they have to suffer from something much worse than the bullies?