Supremacy is a harangue on How We Live Now in the guise of a home-invasion thriller. Like Tully (Joe Anderson), a white supremacist recently released from prison after serving a 15-year sentence, this low-budget potboiler administers its blunt social commentary like he doles out violence: with a curled fist, the letters “H-A-T-E” tattooed across his knuckles. The script, billed as being “inspired by true events,” initially traces a series of Bonnie-and-Clyde-esque escapades of Tully and Doreen (Dawn Olivieri), a liaison from his local chapter of the Aryan Brotherhood and later described as a “white supremacist groupie.” After shooting a black police officer in a fit a racist rage, Tully and Doreen duck into the home of an unsuspecting African-American family, intimidating them with hateful threats and violence. Little do they know that Walker (Danny Glover), the family patriarch, is an ex-con himself, and he uses his prison know-how to keep his family safe, but the confrontation reveals prejudices of his own, mostly his hatred of law enforcement and disillusionment with his own culture.
Director Deon Taylor’s roots are in horror cinema, and he has a knack for setting a gritty visual tone. His grimy images, shot on 16mm, resemble something out of a vintage grindhouse cheapie, enhanced by the gray interiors and low lighting. But the story hinges on the shifting power dynamics between Tully and Walker, and the director, often shooting in the same basic medium close-up and seemingly averse to putting more than one person in the frame at a time, completely fails to visually represent any sort of interpersonal human dynamic. Most of the film is set in the family’s old, creaky house, and though the confined setting naturally slows down the action, it’s the trite proselytizing that hampers Supremacy to excruciating ends. Each plot twist and characterization is foregrounded in vehemently expressed racial issues, and just like the film’s staid character and story development, these ideas aren’t explored with any depth. The characters shout themselves hoarse, but they don’t really say anything, and it isn’t long before we feel like hostages ourselves, bound by the filmmakers’ strained moral outrage.