Most people may be quick to dismiss “August Underground” as a run-of-the-mill low-budget serial killer movie, which would be a mistake. Open-ended, without beginning credits, the movie was designed to appear as the single-tape home-movies of a pair of best-buddies, who record everything they do, from a visit to a rave, to a trip to ‘Roadside America’s’ miniature railroad, to the rape, murder, assault and/or mutilation of over a half-dozen victims.
The strengths of “August Underground”, and what sets it apart from quickie misogynistic, low-budget exploitation serial killer flicks, lie in its presentation and the performances of the leads. Director Vogel is the only one of the pair to appear on screen – co-writer Peters plays the unseen cameraman, whose perverse giggling makes the chilling events even more disturbing – and comes off as a reasonably pleasant guy who, it becomes all too clear, has serious rage-management issues. Because it is supposed to be a home movie, the events are presented sans narrative or editing – a scene begins when the cameraman hits record, ends when he stops, and moving immediately onto the next setting and scene. With this structure established from the first few seconds, it allows the amateurish camerawork to increase the unease of the audience. Peters never lingers on a special effect, often he lets the shot go out of focus as he fumbles. By the end of the movie, you’re convinced that while these two guys may be fictional characters, there is no doubt that people like them are not only out there, they very well might be living next door to you.
Tense, uncomfortable and demented. “August Underground” may very well be the last word in low-budget serial killer movies.