The clue is in the title of this engrossing yet maddeningly self-conscious arthouse musing on America’s lust for violence. Its source is a 2012 mass murder, when a gunman walked into a Colorado cinema screening the Batman movie ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and killed 12 people. However, the specifics of that event are referenced at the start of this drama, leading us to assume we’re watching a copycat at work.
As well as seeing the apparent murderer, we’re invited to follow the lives of several troubled individuals over a single day, all of whom, we realise, are headed to that fateful screening. There’s a military veteran, cleaning his weapons, and a selfie-obsessed girl failing to make it as a YouTube star. Each is located, often rather beautifully, in a world of parking lots and low-rise malls, picket fences, swimming pools and highways to nowhere.
The obvious comparison to make is with ‘Elephant’, Gus Van Sant’s dramatisation of the Columbine school massacre. But while first-time director Tim Sutton’s film shows plenty of initial promise, it’s increasingly a troubling experience, lacking the bravery to assert anything beyond the vaguest truism – that violence begets violence.