An Hour to Kill is a horror-comedy anthology from director Aaron K. Carter, a filmmaker who impressed me with his previous feature Dead Kansas. Dead Kansas was a low-budget zombie flick that would’ve blended into the genre if it wasn’t for Carter’s resourceful qualities as a filmmaker. Whenever directors start to blame a strapped budget or a low-end production for their movie’s flaws, I dig up Dead Kansas as my argument to debunk that claim.
Since then, Aaron K. Carter has been befriended by the YouTube film community, most notably by vlogger Brendan Mitchell (aka. WetMovie1). Mitchell’s videos provide an entertaining perspective of Hollywood, its celebrities, and cult cinema. It’s the ideal social zone for Carter, whose frequent appearances on the channel suggest he’s just as passionate for appreciating movies as he is making them. With An Hour to Kill, he’s given roles to Mitchell along with vlog regulars Frankie Pozos, Gabriel “Gabe” Mercado, Luna Meow, and pickup artists Vince Kelvin and Arash Dibazar. An Hour to Kill practically caters to online viewers with these appearances. I can’t imagine anyone outside of the YouTube circle giggling at Gabe’s party cowboy hat (it’s practically his costume in the segment he stars in). However, these YouTube personalities need to be guided as actors and Aaron K. Carter, unfortunately, depends too much on their social media pull to gloss over their lack of screen presence. Kelvin and Dibazar qualify as slight exceptions considering their physicalities contribute to their menacing characters.
An Hour to Kill is comprised of three crude short films framed within an assassin story that’s supposed to hold everything together. The wraparound segment involves hitmen Gio and Frankie (Aaron Guerrero, and the fantastically rubber-faced Frankie Pozos) waiting 60-minutes to carry out their next job. Unfortunately (and unbeknownst) for Frankie, the hit is on him. While the men wait, they exchange urban legend-esque stories. Valkyrie’s Bunker is a tired “Babes and Blood horror” about young female potheads being stalked by a nazi serial killer, Assacre is a rambling gross-out comedy about a foodie who eats a vicious pepper, and the tasteless comedy Hog Hunters follows some country bumpkins who get their comeuppance with some mutated livestock.
Anthologies usually fight against being an uneven collection of ideas, but the problem with An Hour to Kill is that it’s too random and loose to flow correctly or find a cohesive connection. The project is missing key professionalism that’s required to evolve a YouTube lark into a feature film. Other than some neat but fleeting practical effects, An Hour to Kill is bare; both narratively and stylistically. A massive disappointment since I know Aaron K. Carter has the ability to rise to the occasion.
I understand Carter is wanting to experiment with different genres, tones, and humour. As he establishes himself as a filmmaker, this ambition is what makes his career worth following. However, now that he’s dabbled in lowbrow cinema, I would prefer if Aaron K. Carter didn’t make a movie like this again. He’s proven himself to be better than nasty punchlines and off-brand Tarantino knock-offs.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie