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The American Ripper (2023) Review

The American Ripper is a new film by Chuck and Karolina Morrongiello the filmmakers who previously gave us Amityville: Mt. Misery Road. And when I say by them I mean it rather literally. Chuck wrote, directed, and co-stars in it with Karolina who also edited it.

And between them, they also handled the cinematography, effects, costumes, and the film’s score and contributed three original songs for its soundtrack. So I feel quite confident calling it their film, the question is do they deserve credit or blame for their efforts?

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The film opens with a man using a shotgun on a screaming woman before turning it on himself. Post credits, we return to the same house, where real estate agent Adaline Godfrey (Angela Grannan) is showing it to Lola (Karolina Morrongiello) and Bobby (Chuck Morrongiello). When Bobby wonders why the previous owners would leave a house this nice, she tells them the bank repossessed it. This isn’t entirely a lie, dead people do tend to have trouble making mortgage payments.

Of course, they take the house, and while moving in, Bobby finds a small wooden box with goggles, a branding iron, and some old letters and photographs including one that looks suspiciously like H.H. Holmes, otherwise known as The American Ripper. It’s not long before he’s zoning out, staring off into the distance and acting like an asshole to their friends and a neighbor who stops by to welcome them to the neighborhood.

All of this plays out like the typical first act of a haunted house film, if it wasn’t very obviously set in Florida, they could probably have added Amityville to the title and called it Amityville: The American Ripper. That does have a ring to it, and now that I’ve mentioned it, it’ll probably be a Tubi Original before the end of the year. You have my apologies.

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After Bobby nearly drowns her in the pool, Lola does some research on the house and, as expected, it turns out that their dream house was built on the site where a local serial killer’s house once stood. Rather than run for her life, she goes looking for the now fully possessed Bobby and ends up tied to the bed while he rants about owning her forever and goes looking for that branding iron I mentioned.

The American Ripper was shot during COVID lockdown, so the filmmakers had to keep the cast and number of actors appearing in the scenes low, which obviously is going to limit the ways the story can play out. That can, and has been, worked around by other low-budget filmmakers. Unfortunately, one of the best ways to do that is to keep the running time short. And while they kept their first film to seventy-five minutes, this one runs to just under two hours and is full of padding,

Shots go on way too long, for example, we see a bird perched on a piling in the lake. Then we watch Bobby watching it. Then we watch it some more, then back to Bobby and back to the bird one more time. The scene itself has no bearing on anything and just stops the plot dead in its tracks. There’s also way too much time spent watching Bobby make faces and rant to the camera.

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It does pick up in the final twenty minutes or so, but there’s just way too much dead space to get through on the way there. This gave me time to wonder why nobody came looking for the people Bobby killed to keep his secret. One of them is a cop, you would think his disappearance would be noticed.

The American Ripper does have its moments, and fans of the Hostel films or Amber Road should find the final act to their liking. But without serious editing, only those who don’t mind giving the fast-forward button a workout are likely to see them.

ITN has released The American Ripper on Digital Platforms, you can check its Facebook page for details.

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1 thought on “The American Ripper (2023) Review”

  1. Angela D Grannan

    Thank you for your review! The movie was shot in Florida during “lockdown”. I enjoyed playing my role as it reminded me of my earlier acting days. So much fun to create and share. I appreciate you for commenting and watching.

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