'American Animals' Review

Updated on February 13, 2019

American Animals is a 2018 true crime drama film written and directed by Bart Layton. The film stars Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Blake Jenner, Jared Abrahamson, and Ann Dowd. It is based on the true story of a library heist that happened at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky in 2004.

Spencer Reinhard, Warren Lipka, Eric Borsuk and Chas Allen are four friends who live an ordinary existence in Kentucky. After a visit to Transylvania University, Lipka comes up with the idea to steal the rarest and most valuable books from the school's library. As one of the most audacious art heists in U.S. history starts to unfold, the men question whether their attempts to inject excitement and purpose into their lives are simply misguided attempts at achieving the American dream.


American Animals... Wow... Just Wow. This was not the film I was expecting. I was suspecting a traditional heist film, but this is not that. American Animals was more like a drama that happened to have a heist, and I loved it.

After the film I had a very strange feeling. Again I was expecting a traditional heist film, so watching this film I did feel a little disappointed. But I couldn't keep my eyes off of it. Then when the end credits rolled in I was left speechless. Why? I still don't know. A part of me is saying I shouldn't like it, but I can't help but love it.

I thought the directing and the way the story was told was amazing. I acting was also great especially from Evan Peters. I also really enjoyed the score.

American Animals does a lot of things so differently that it can be a little off putting, but it's done so well and with such style that I couldn't help but love every second of it. I thought American Animals was amazing.


I thought the acting was great from all four of the stars, but Evan Peters and Barry Keoghan both stood out to me. Especially Evan Peters who I thought stole the show. He really surprised me. I really liked him in American Horror Story and X-Men, but I didn't know if he could carry an entire film. I'm glad to say he did and more. Barry Keoghan also did a great job.


The story and the way it's told make American Animals stand out from the rest in the pack. It's a true crime thriller told in such a unique way. The film switches back and forth from the main story to the actual people involved. I thought Bart Layton did an excellent job behaving it out. The frequent switches never took away from story and they never felt out of place.

I thought the film also did an excellent job at building up the tension. I felt like this was a slow burning drama presented as a thriller, and I thought it worked really well. Although this film was mostly centered around this heist I personally thought the main focus was on something very different.

I personally thought this film was more about the characters and what they were thinking rather than the heist itself. American Animals is a drama about adolescents and what people are willing to do to be more than ordinary. It just so happens to feature a heist. Going into this film I was definitely not expecting this, but leaving I want to see more films take this approach.

Again I was expecting a traditional heist film like Ocean's 11 or even The Town, bit instead what we get is a coming of age story that had a heist in it. It somehow works.


Of all the films I've seen this year this one had to be the most surprising. Not because it was good or bad, but because it was totally different then what I expected. Even so I I loved it even more.

With that being said I think this is a film that a lot of people won't like, or they'll think it's just OK. I personally loved it, but I can't argue with people who didn't. It can be very slow, and some people might find it very underwhelming.

With that being said I personally thought it was more about the character rather then the heist, so when the ending came and the end credits rolled in I was speechless. This was one of those films that would normally be bad, but it surprisingly become one of my favorites from films from this year.

American Animals is a very innovative and stylish true crime thriller that I loved. Again it is not for everyone. If your looking for blood pumping action you won't find it here, but if you have the patience the set through it and just watch the film unfold you will not be disappointed.

4 stars for American Animals

© 2019 Royce Proctor


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    • Royce Proctor profile imageAUTHOR

      Royce Proctor 

      16 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      I'm glad you enjoyed it as much as I did.

    • John Plocar profile image

      John Plocar 

      16 months ago from Weatherford

      I also loved American Animals, it was easily one of my favorite films out of 2018.


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