Linda Cook review: ‘The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain’ is a compelling, haunting true story

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“The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain”

How can you know how a movie ends and still be on the edge of your seat?

Writer/director David Midell accomplishes that for his audience in “The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain,” a heartbreaking true thriller.

If you don’t know about what happened in 2011, here’s some history: Chamberlain was home shortly before 5:30 a.m. Nov. 19 in White Plains, N.Y. when he inadvertently triggered a LifeAid alert necklace in his apartment at Winbrook Public Housing on Lexington Avenue.

That’s where the end of his life began. We see the events unfold in real time.

Three officers, following procedure, show up at Chamberlain’s door and ask that he open up for them.

Chamberlain, who has health issues, is confused and afraid, and refuses to do so. Even after the dispatcher cancels the call, the officers insist he open the door and Chamberlain is resolute in his decision not to.

Frankie Faison turns in the performance of a lifetime as Chamberlain, a veteran who served in the Marine Corps. Now he’s 68, and he has bipolar disorder. We watch his confusion and terror mount as the scene intensifies, with neighbors and family gathering outside.

The incident spirals downward while Sgt. Parks (Steve O’Connell,) Officer Jackson (Ben Marten, “At Any Price”) and Officer Rossi (Enrico Natale) argue about what to do next while Chamberlain, still inside, talks to family members on the phone.

Then the officers being to wonder: Is there someone else – possibly someone being held captive – in Chamberlain’s apartment?

This isn’t a documentary per se, but it transitions into one at the end, when you hear actual recordings of what transpired.

This is grim, powerful and unforgettable, a haunting tale of social injustice.

4 stars

Running time: One hour and 23 minutes.

Rated: Unrated, but similar to an “R.”

Streaming on prime video and Vudu.

Watch the official trailer here.

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