Sometimes, the monsters don’t live under your bed, or in your closet. Sometimes, monsters could be active members in their church…a scout leader…or someone who lives in your house. The Clovehitch Killer was inspired by a real monster, but does this film capture the true terror of a serial killer?
The Clovehitch Killer is a 2018 thriller directed by Duncan Skiles, and starring Dylan McDermott, Charlie Plummer, Samantha Mathis, and Madisen Beaty. The film was inspired by true life serial killer Dennis Rader who gave himself the nickname BTK for bind, torture, and kill. In this adaptation, the small town of Clarksville Kentucky is holding an annual remembrance ceremony for the thirteen victims who were murdered by the Clovehitch Killer ten years earlier. The killer disappeared and no one knows if he is alive or dead.
One of the families at the remembrance ceremony is 16-year-old Tyler Burnside (Charlie Plummer) along with his devout Christian parents, Don (Dylan McDermott), and Cindy (Samantha Mathis), and little sister Susie (Brenna Sherman). Don is a very strict father who is also the scout leader for his son’s troop. Tyler is a good kid, who has a crush on Amy (Emma Jones). He borrows his father’s truck one night and while making out with Amy, she finds a photo of a girl gagged and tied up, bondage style. Amy quickly spreads the rumor that Tyler is into kinky stuff which immediately causes his church, school, and scout troop to ostracize the boy.
The only person who believes in Tyler’s innocence is also the town outcast. Kassi (Madisen Beaty) is an amateur historian on everything concerning the Clovehitch killings, which makes her the town’s weirdo in residence. After Tyler confides in Kassi about the photo in his father’s truck the two junior detectives decide to spy on Don.
Dylan McDermott plays his character as a church going man, who says grace before every meal, clips coupons, and is a good father to his children…and although Don is very strict with his family, there is no doubt that he does love them. Don also has weekly outings with his brother who was almost killed in a car crash ten years ago and is now permanently brain damaged. To the outside world Don is a perfect citizen and Christian…but the man has secrets…that might be hidden in his shed and a crawl space under the house.
This film really keeps us on the edge of our seats even though the pace is slow in the beginning, but this is only to set up our sense of the fragile relationship that is going on between father and son, and the son’s growing terror that his father might be the famous killer.
I have always wondered how a serial killer could hide in plain sight. Wouldn’t their family sense something? See something? How easy is it for a demonic personality to also be a church leader? If you have kept up with the child rape cases within the Catholic Church, you know how easy it is for men in power to expertly keep horrific secrets hidden from the public…and so it is with Don who hides behind the façade of religious man, family man, and scout troop leader.
What would you do if you suspected a family member of being a serial killer? This is the very situation that Tyler finds himself in as he tries to understand the many peculiarities that surround his father and what is behind the padlock on the shed.
When Tyler and Kassi are forced to face the truth, we are given an unexpected ending as the two teenagers follow Don and learn that he is planning another killing. Will they be able to prevent the return of the Clovehitch killings? Don never expects his son to be as diligent to uncover the truth as Don is at hiding it.
Watch this film on Netflix. You have my guarantee that you will be on the edge of your seat for the ending scenes.