American Animals (2018) – Dir: Bart Layton

 

The true life story of a group of American students who decided to steal some rare books from the University of Transylvania Kentucky in 2004.

Trailer

This film uses the documentary format of having the protagonists talking to camera about the events and inter-cuts it with a traditional film starring Evan Peters, Blake Jenner, Barry Keoghan and Jared Abrahamson playing the parts. What follows is a hilarious and yet terrifyingly tense recreation of events and a study of what its like to cross a line that you can’t come back from.

These are intelligent and well-off college students who decide to commit the crime partly as a shortcut to a more exciting future as much as something to do. They clearly have no idea how to pull off the crime which is brilliantly demonstrated when the planning begins (including taking pointers from Reservoir Dogs). They tell themselves that this can be achieved without hurting anyone but deep down they know this cannot be guaranteed and once they embark on this train, there is no getting off.

I found this element of the film so effective. The doubts creep into all the characters, as the crime draws nearer, and once they take that first step into the university, the tension (and comedy) just keeps building. Again, this is made all the more effective given the interviews with the real people.

Rating – 8/10

Should you go to see it? – Yes, while not an epic in scope and visuals, the comedy and tension building makes it ideal to watch with an audience.

 

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