The Clovehitch Killer ★★½

Drawing from real-world bogeymen such as Dennis “BTK” Rader, 'The Clovehitch Killer' treats a hackneyed premise – the serial killer burrowed deep into the cozy camouflage of flyover suburbia – with an admirable, unfussy solemnity. Director Duncan Skiles sketches an uncommonly authentic portrait of whitebread evangelical family life around teenager Tyler (Charlie Plummer), whose discovery of an unsettling clue triggers a consuming paranoia that his square, blue-collar father (Dylan McDermott) is the killer who once stalked their small Kentucky town. There’s a measured, modest quality to Skiles’ filmmaking here that complements the veneer of Middle American normalcy – the family game nights and the scouting food drives – which the murderer uses as his hunting blind. Unfortunately, the director and screenwriter Christopher Ford never justify their earnest, ponderous approach to the story or their late-game structural shenanigans with any unexpected swerves or thematic depth. 'Clovehitch' is too predictable to be a compelling thriller, but too hollow to be taken seriously as a critique of middle-class rot.