Making his directorial debut, A.R Hilton premiered his horror film Anonymous Killers at ChiTown Movies in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, November 6.
Starring Gabriela Lopez, Natassia Halabi, Patrick Caberty, Kevin Glikmann, Nathanyael Grey, and Dominic Pace. The film focuses on four seasoned killers and one professor. Each is violently kidnapped and awake in chains, discovering that they’re part of a demented and sinister experimental trial. The five have to tell their story of how they became killers in a way that justifies their actions. To decide their fate, each has to judge one another base on the motives of their killings. Hence, a jury of their peers.
Written by A.R Hilton, the movie takes aim at social issues and the judicial system’s hypocrisy when they say, “judge by a jury of your peers.” Hilton, who spent several years in the prison, says while he was on trial at the age of 19, the jury did not reflect his “social background.”
“For me, when they say being judge by a jury of your peers, that was hypocrisy,” says Hilton. “I went to trial with the state and the Feds at the age of 19. I had to pick a jury comprised of 24 people, and none of them were my peers. None of them had the same social background, economic background, or cultural background even to understand me,” Hilton continues. “The system looked at me with such disdain. At 19, to have people look at you, like you don’t matter, and just give you 20 years for nonviolent crimes was hurtful. That was one of the reasons that spurred this film—the lack of empathy in our justice system.”
Dominic Pace, who stars as Romero Scaranelli in Anonymous Killers, added that the film reflects the social and criminal justice system. “With a lot of gangs, we automatically want to write them off,” says Dominic. “But when you’re only given a few opportunities in this country, you won’t have many options. That’s what I love about this film and my character, Romero. He struggled through gangs, and normally you wouldn’t have any empathy, but when you see the movie, you’ll develop a lot more empathy for people’s backgrounds.”
Drawing from personal experiences as a Mexican. Gabriela Lopez, who plays Lucy Black in Anonymous Killers, gave her character a level of authenticity because of racism that she and her family encountered coming from Mexico to the United States.
“From a very young age, I recognized racism,” Gabriela said. “Me and family dealt with racism a lot. So, I had a place to go to get inspiration. It was cool for me to utilize those traumas and bring them to the surface and let them out.”
The villain in Anonymous Killers, Emaramus Kloath, played by Nathanyael Grey, represents society’s two-faced antics. Smiling in your face, but ready to stab you in the back. Something Hilton says he knows all too well.
“Going back to the system when I was on trial, their eyes told me the truth, but their words lied to me,” says Hilton. “They would call me Mr. Hilton, you know. They treat you with the utmost respect, but the whole time they’re ready to kill you. I wanted this character to be a gentleman. I wanted him to be distinguished and have this sense of elegance. I wanted him to represent society; I wanted him to be polite. But the whole time, he’s waiting to kill you. That’s what they were doing to me in court. They were really kind, but their eyes showed hate.”
Anonymous Killers is a genuinely remarkable and thought-provoking movie. If you don’t take it at face value. It’s a thriller equipped with twists and turns, including loopholes in the experiment’s rules.
For more information on Anonymous Killers, visit https://anonymouskillers.com/.
Ali Bouldin is a journalist in the Chicagoland area with articles in multiple black entertainment publications. Follow his Instagram at @Ali.Bouldin.