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The Axe Murders of Villisca - Blu-ray Review

2 beersI have to call foul on this horror title.  I admit that I had some expectations going into it due to my knowledge of the horrific event the film is based upon and, if I am being completely honest, the BEST scenes in this movie come early when the brutality of the event is brought to life.

But that’s the first few minutes of the movie.  It is also the best part of the ENTIRE thing.  I mean, if you enjoy seeing invisible forces attack people, then soldier on.   But, based on the 78-minutes seen here, the movie is essentially over after the first scene comes to a conclusion.  It gets no better from that.

The Axe Murders of Villisca isn’t a flick about the true-crime horror event that took place in small-town Iowa of 1912 when no less than 8 people were found hacked up in a home.  Bad news.  Especially when you consider that 6 of those victims were children.  It is; however, a character driven narrative with a few legitimate thrills and spills. 

Unfortunately, the horror film feels tremendously rushed and incomplete and, if I am being honest, I don’t really have any desire to see what’s missing from this brief movie EVER get tacked back on.  It’s just not that great of a movie. 

Written by Owen Egerton and directed Tony E. Valenzuela, The Axe Murders of Villisca concerns itself less with history and more a new story that uses some factual evidence as its backbone.  At one time, it had a pretty clever marketing campaign.  The simple poster art with just the axe itself was disturbing and mysterious.  None of that, though, makes the final cut here.

Caleb (Robert Adamson), Denny (Jarrett Sleeper), and Jess (Alex Frnka) and what happens to them during the recording of their Murder House video blog is the focus here.  It’s not the story of the original murders.  While they are a part of it, their story is nixed in favor of an under cooked narrative full of moderate teen angst.  These three teens group together after a videoed sex-tape makes the rounds through the hallways of a school and go ghost hunting to forget it all.

Yeah, as you can probably guess, it doesn’t all work as the victims of the past are resurrected in spirit form to possess the new humans there in the Villisca house for the night.  Other teens – annoyed by Jess’ Instagram posts from the murder house – join in on the Scooby Doo fun and murder most foul follows.  

While it does feature a good performance from Sean Whalen (Roach in Wes Craven’s The People Under the Stairs) and an interesting cameo from Napoleon Dynamite’s Uncle Rio (Jon Gries), The Axe Murders of Villisca is a wasted opportunity.  It starts out strong, introduces its characters correctly, and then starts to fall apart the closer they get to the house. 

The horror!  The horror!  Something clearly went wrong with The Axe Murders of Villisca and that’s the real mystery.


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The Axe Murders of Villisca - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R.
78 mins
: Tony E. Valenzuela
Owen Egerton
Robert Adamson, Jarrett Sleeper, Alex Frnka
: Horror
In 1912, Eight People Were Brutally Murdered in Their House. This House.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Life is about the choices we make and we have to do our best to make the good ones, otherwise we get stuck living in the bad ones."
Theatrical Distributor:
IFC Films
Official Site:
Release Date:

DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
June 6, 2017
Synopsis: 'Villisca' is a ghost story based on the house where the notorious and still unsolved 1912 ax murders took place. Three outcast teenagers break into the house in search of answers, but discover something far beyond their worst fears.


[tab title="Blu-ray Review"]

The Axe Murders of Villisca - Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray
- June 6, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: English SDH, Spanish

Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Region A

IFC Midnight and Shout Factory presents The Axe Murders of Villisca on 1080p blu-ray with a clear and detailed-specific widescreen (1.78:1) transfer.  Colors are crisp and clear and shadows are defined.  Blacks are expressive and bold.  They retain their haunted edges with a fierceness that is both immersive and defined.  Colors are appropriately sharp, too.  Nothing is restrained here.  The blood effect looks practical and all sorts of gooey, too.  And the details in the setting do not go unnoticed.  The fantastic sounds used in the movie are encoded through a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that immerses the audience in the movie.



  • None

Special Features:

  • None


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The Axe Murders of Villisca - Blu-ray Review