Wednesday, May 03, 2023

Johnny & Clyde: Serial Killers, Demons, and a Sitting Congressman

Please do not accidentally call them “Bonnie & Clyde,” because they aren’t worthy of the comparison, not to the real-life outlaws, the musical, or any of the films depicting them, except maybe Bonnie & Clyde vs. Dracula. In this case, Johnny and his lover are taking on a demonically protected crime syndicate, when they aren’t killing innocent victims. Like the Bonnie & Clyde mash-up, the resulting mayhem is not as fun as it sounds. In fact, the violence and nihilism are a bit much in Tom DeNucci’s Johnny & Clyde, which releases this Friday.

Former Sheriff Randall Lock is determined to catch and kill Johnny & Clyde now that they are back in Rhode Island. The serial killer couple tortured Lock’s daughter to death, but perversely, the film expects viewers to root for them instead of him. Sadly, those expectations are probably based on the fact he is old, fat, and pasty white, whereas they are young and fit. However, the title twosome are actually the most loathsome characters in this unpleasant film.

Even Alana Hart is more endearing than Johnny & Clyde. Hart is managing her gangster father’s local gambling interests, with the supernational assistance of his ancient satanic cult. She is definitely the boss, but she dresses like Larry Flint’s administrative assistant. When Johnny and Clyde hijack one of Hart’s cash shipment, the surviving guard tries to exchange information regarding the syndicate’s secret vaults for his life. Hart knows Johnny & Clyde and their freaky friends are coming, so she arranges to have a demon named Bakwas waiting for them.

As Johnny & Clyde, Avan Jogia and Ajani Russell so completely lack charisma, viewers will only want to see them get the painful payback they so richly deserve. Of course, that rather undermines any sense of rooting interest in anyone on-screen. Sadly, there is no pithy Tarantino dialogue to punch-up this
Natural Born Killers supernatural rip-off. Frankly, all the casual cruelty, depicted in such a flat, unremarkable style, make the film a relentlessly grim viewing experience.

At least Megan Fox vamps it up shamelessly as Hart. However, Bai Ling is completely wasted as Zhang, an assassin hired by Hart, who bafflingly drops in and out of the film at random, with no warning or explanation. Even more bizarrely, retiring Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline has a cameo as a reporter, so you have to wonder whether he read the violently misogynistic script first.

This is not merely a bad movie. It is unsavory and unpleasant. The sadism is not funny and the lack of empathy is depressing. Not recommended,
Johnny & Clyde releases Friday (5/5) in theaters and on VOD.