‘The Act of Killing’ Trailer May Change the Way You Think About Onscreen Death


At the heart of Joshua Oppenheimer’s new documentary, The Act of Killing, is an interesting experiment. The general conceit is that he’s contacting mass murderers who are living in a culture that celebrates rather than vilifies their crimes against humanity, and he’s challenging them to film reenactments of the murders they’ve carried out in their real lives, but in the dramatic film genre of their choice.

As you can see in the new trailer for the doc, some of their short films end up looking like crime films, some experimental art films, and some gaudy Bollywood musicals, but the tie that binds them all together is that they’re really disturbing to watch, and they just may leave you examining how you react to the murder you see so frequently projected up on the big screen, and why it is you react the way you do.

Even if you’re not in the mood for introspection and serious subject matter, there appears to be just enough genre-bending absurdity in this movie for it to appeal to film geeks who just like watching movies about movies as well. This may be a little bit heavier than the regular type of project that Drafthouse Films distributes, but it still appears to be weird enough to fit right in with everything else that’s to their tastes. And, heck, the movie is showing off Werner Herzog and Errol Morris’ names in its credits. If nothing else, that’s got to get your attention.

The Act of Killing starts rolling out to theaters on July 19th.

Weaned on the genre films of the 80s. Reared by the independent movement of the 90s. Earned a BA for writing stuff in the 00s. Reviews current releases at

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