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Review: ‘A Nightmare in Las Vegas’ doc asks questions, offers theories in probe of mass shooting

Charlie Minn, left, interviews Randy Rau in the documentary "A Nightmare in Las Vegas."
(Dreamscape Media)

DIY documentarian Charlie Minn styles himself as a rogue journalist, diving into the darkest elements of society, utilizing found footage, interviews and reenactments to explore violence, mayhem and murder. His latest feature, “A Nightmare in Las Vegas,” explores the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history, the massacre at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in October 2017.

A lone gunman opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, killing 58 people and injuring 851,422 from gunshot wounds. It’s an act of such unthinkable terror that it’s too much to comprehend.

Minn unfolds the events of the shooting in extreme detail, interviewing victims, witnesses and first responders. Found footage from cellphone videos taken on the scene provides the most riveting moments, and Minn deploys this material to great effect. Occasionally, Minn poses slightly provocative questions to the victims, such as “Was it better to run or hide?” or “It took the police 12 minutes to get to the room; do you have a problem with that?”

The massacre remains mysterious, with an unclear motive, very little information about the gunman and so many unanswered questions. The second half of the film takes a more conspiratorial bent, featuring interviews with lawyers, former casino investigators and journalists, as well as reenactments to position the argument that MGM, owners of Mandalay Bay, are liable to the victims and bear the burden of security and response. While this begs for investigation, this part of the film loses the sense of control it displayed when focusing on the victims.

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Although “A Nightmare in Las Vegas” is sometimes rough around the edges, it’s intensely compelling and isn’t afraid to demand answers to questions that seem to have gone unasked. In many ways, it’s a first step in processing the enormity of this event.

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‘A Nightmare in Las Vegas’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour 20 minutes

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Playing: opens April 13th, Cinepolis Pico Rivera

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