Young up-and-comer Mickey Keating is on a roll, churning out five movies in just four years. But what makes his work so extraordinary is that he refuses to stick to one subgenre, showing fans that his love for horror is as strong as their own. Each venture behind the camera delivers something vastly different than the last, giving heavy homage to a different one of his favorite filmmakers. His latest, Psychopaths, pulls from Paul Schrader and other colorful and vibrant psychedelic films from the 1970’s.
Unlike his previous works, Psychopaths jumps right in, explaining that a night of violence is underway thanks to the electrocution of serial killer Henry Earl Starckweather (Larry Fessenden) during a full moon. Keating wastes no time introducing several psychopaths, including The Final Girls‘ Angela Trimbur, Carnage Park and Last Exorcism star Ashley Bell, and newcomer Sam Zimmerman, who all have their own personal vendettas to attend to. It plays like an anthology film, mixing up various stories that will eventually collide.
Quite possibly because this is Keating’s most ambitious work, the film ends up feeling small, with little to no establishing shots that end giving it a stage-y vibe (which is strange considering there’s some incredible crane work with the camera). Knowing Keating, it’s quite possible this was intentional, as the characters themselves feel accentuated and even pulpish, which really works well within the confines of the colorful palette and psychedelic visuals.
And while this visually may be Keating’s strongest film it’s, unfortunately, the weakest in regards to storytelling. This swirling tale of several crazy people leaves little to no time for character development, which results in an immense lack of impact. While mystery is always welcomed in film, Psychopaths doesn’t really deliver on any promises, making this more of a beautiful work of art that’s void of any real meaning. The single biggest mistake, however, wasn’t nurturing Angela Trimbur’s titillating performance, which begged for Psychopaths to be her story (get a taste in the below clip).
Problems aside, Keating is still a tour de force that’s able to transcend subgenres like never seen before. Instead of retreading, he’s trying to further himself as a filmmaker, which will lead to hits and misses. While Psychopaths misses the mark, it’s an admirable effort that should be celebrated and welcomed in the horror community with open arms.