American Animals: Heist/documentary hybrid

Real criminals meet heist movie

Back to Article
Back to Article

American Animals: Heist/documentary hybrid

Gabe Guida, Staff Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Written and directed by Bart Layton, American Animals is a true crime drama released in 2018. The film managed to bring in a couple of awards: The British Independent Award For Debut Screenwriter, and British Independent Film Award For Best Editing.

The cast boasts several big names, such as Evan Peters and Barry Keoghan. The film follows a group of four college students attempting to steal priceless books from their university’s library. Most of the characters are only amateur criminals, so their lack of experience makes the film more entertaining.

One of the most interesting aspects of the film is the documentary style that is also incorporated into the standard heist movie set-up. Since the movie is based off a heist that actually happened, the director managed to find the four men who actually carried out the heist in real life. He also managed to find the only direct victim of the crime.

The four men, Warren Lipka, Spencer Reinhard, Chas Allen, and Eric Borsuk, are all interviewed in between scenes to give context for their actions and to share their own point of view. This is something rarely seen in a movie “based on true events” so it makes the movie original and fresh to watch.

The librarian who was present when it was being robbed, Betty Jean Gooch, is also interviewed in the movie. She recounts her harrowing story of being handcuffed and tazed as the criminals stole the priceless books. She also claims that the movie has helped her reach forgiveness for the young men involved in the crime.

“I really liked the movie” said junior Mark Steiber. “I enjoyed how amateur the criminals were. It made it more realistic.”

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I highly recommend it.