'Romance' deathly dull and just plain icky

  • A woman (Diane Farr) doesn't like her sleeping arrangements in the icky, violent home invasion thriller "American Romance."

    A woman (Diane Farr) doesn't like her sleeping arrangements in the icky, violent home invasion thriller "American Romance."

Posted10/20/2016 6:00 AM

The ironically titled "American Romance" belongs to a particularly cruel and nasty subgroup in the home invasion exploitation genre.

Seeing it is something akin to watching somebody pull the wings off flies or yank the legs off spiders for 86 minutes.


Sure, it's violent. Yet, dull and just plain icky.

The story is bracketed by an increasingly torpid interview between a writer (Elana Krausz) and guilt-stricken Sheriff Ricky Stern (Barlow Jacobs), who stopped the Diorama Killer, infamous for slaughtering "immoral" people and arranging their bodies in morbid, tidy tableaus.

In flashbacks, a giddy-in-love, newly married couple, Jeff and Krissy (Nolan Gerard Funk and Daveigh Chase), drives through the middle of rural nowhere when a flat tire forces them to walk a long, long distance to find help.

"I hope we don't run into redneck cannibals!" Krissy burbles.

Instead, they come across a small house with a "Back to the Future" DeLorean out front. Inside the house, a despondent Emery Reed (a slumming John Savage, star of "The Deer Hunter" and "Hair") loads four bullets into a revolver and places the barrel under his chin. (Did he load four because he thought the first three might miss?)

Reed postpones his self-destruction to play host to the lost couple as they await the arrival of a tow truck.

"American Romance" putters along on our natural curiosity. Why does creepy Reed want to kill himself? What is it about the happy couple that seems so off, and off-putting? Who's that woman in a wheelchair who's gagged in the bedroom?

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Yep, things are not what they seem in Zackary Adler's twisted, blood-soaked examination of love, one that winds up being an exercise in anticipated, prolonged cruelty with knives, a hammer, saws, guns, unlikeable characters and pretentious dialogue.

"Love is hard work!" Reed says.

Apparently, so are torment and torture.

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