The current political and social climate in the US is pretty scary to say the least. What with the rise of Trump, the killing of unarmed black men and the general prevalence of gun crime, America is a pretty scary place to live. However, this is by no way a new phenomenon. It’s arguable that the situation today is a culmination of decades of strife. In The Killing of America, Sheldon Renan’s 1982 documentary, he argues that his country has passed a point of no return.
Using archive footage and historical examples, Renan demonstrates that the rise in mass murders and serial killings started in the 1960s. He argues that the assassinations of JFK, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King et al led to a tipping point. America, as a society, basically gave up as all hope of a brighter future was extinguished. The upsurge in violent crime and lawlessness stemmed from this breakdown of community and moral values.
The Killing is an exceedingly powerful and often difficult documentary to watch. Instead of trying to offer some overarching narrative of dig deeper, it opts to relentlessly document the barbarism. There are talking heads interspersed between the footage adding opinions, but for the most part the facts tell their own story. Even so, it’s scary to note the high levels of intelligence shared by these killers. The Killing of America is an unsettling portrait of a dying country. The scariest aspect is that it’s a heck of a lot worse now.
The Killing of America is released on Blu-ray and DVD by Severin Films on Monday.