All-American Murder, 1991 – ★★½

The tone of this was just odd. Seemed they weren’t sure which genre it is and shoved Saved by the Bell in the blender with more traditional slashers and hoped for the best. Can understand why the directors’ filmography sees a burst of releases and then none.

From a writing standpoint, for the time, I have to say the whodunit aspect worked. The reveal was unexpected and not entirely illogical. The lead-up of reveals added up well, an escalation of misjudgements and voila, now we get it.

Walken is effortless as the staring detective. Schlatter gives off a young Gosling vibe making you wonder why his career didn’t take off. The “supporting” cast seem like caricatures of genre tropes but deliver on their purpose of deflection. Despite this, I didn’t hate it.

At the risk of getting spoiler-y, I do wonder if this was the inspiration for the Hindi whodunit Gupt in 1997. I saw a similarity that bothered me some in that film and here too, of repeated beats. How many times can we see the same thing play out before thinking it’s getting ridiculous now.

If I were to adapt something like this, I’d leave the first half as is and focus on strengthening this from the mid-point where the ticking time clock begins.


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