'Hate Crime' Movie Review

Hate Crime MovieBy Jason Lees, MoreHorror.com

HATE CRIME Movie Review (James Cullen Bressack, 2013)

When talking about the extreme fringe of horror cinema, it’s best not to mistake personal tastes for a recommendation. Middle of the road horror (ie. the fun stuff) is easy to talk about with its misses and hits.

We can all get a laugh saying how much we hated or loved the latest slasher flick or remake, but when it comes to the real stuff, the high octane stuff, the effectiveness of the film is best determined by each individual viewer. That’s why films like CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (review) and the original I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE are timeless, because whether you love them or hate them, they’re effective and work on the audience on a gut level. They’re not there to entertain (I hope) but to move those brave enough to watch them. With a fun power tool wielding maniac, art takes a backseat to spectacle.

We can talk about how much we enjoyed seeing the FX of a good Black and Decker lobotomy, but we’re never emotionally scathed by the experience. That little bit of cinemagic is reserved for a higher branch of the horror genre.

This realm of film is populated by the big boys and girls, the ones who aren’t out to make a fast buck, but are trying to make something different. Whether or not they succeed is entirely based on the viewer. Earlier I mentioned some easy examples. Everyone knows that CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST and I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE pass the test and are generally regarded with respect. Other, more recent entries into this plateau aren’t afforded the same status. A SERBIAN FILM and the THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE flicks get knocked for being gratuitous and exploitive, without any redeeming value.

I counter that by asking does BRIDE OF CHUCKY have any redeeming value? Is it supposed to? No, it’s just there to be fun. SERBIAN and CENTIPEDE are both surprisingly well made movies, but it’s not up to me to tell you if it’s your thing or not. It’s my job to point out that they’re worth seeing and that they aren’t complete trash.

The very nature of extreme cinema isn’t to make you jump, but to make you feel something that you normally won’t. By that definition, something like Peckinpah’s STRAW DOGS is far more extreme and effective than the more obvious Olive Stone flick NATURAL BORN KILLERS. STRAW DOGS makes you think and makes you squirm, while NBK is a wild ride that’s meant to sicken, but not really provoke. Even the toughest criminal defense attorney Dayton, who deals with real criminals on a daily basis, can be totally shocked by some scenes of extreme cinema.

The point? I’m getting to it.

Subversive cinema is hard to define, and even harder to analyze. When it’s good, it’ll kick your teeth in, when it’s bad, it’s almost embarrassing to watch. The point is to give each film a chance to breathe and let it affect you. Not every movie works for every viewer, so it the less said about it plotwise helps the film do its job. It’s not like ruining CITIZEN CANE by talking about Rosebud out of turn, but the more you know going into some flicks can pull you out of their world, so all we can do is stand up for certain films and say “yes, it’s definitely worth your time.”

And that brings (finally) to James Cullen Bressack’s HATE CRIME. This little flick is another reason I love indie cinema so damned much. Without giving anything away, let’s just stamp it as a HOME INVASION title and let it sit right there. Maybe we should add that it’s also a FOUND FOOTAGE movie so you know to expect the trappings of that subgenre when you go see it. From there on, all I’m going to say is that this is brutal brutal stuff. It’s not fun. It’s not supposed to be.

We’re talking slice of ugly life here, akin to early Wes Craven stuff, only shot and edited with some serious technical skill. Normally the cinema verite, for me, gets in the way of the story, but Bressack shoots with an ease that rarely inhibits his actors’ performances. We get fleeting glances, just enough at times to follow the action, but it’s never played out for us. The technical restrictions never hold us from entering that world. We lean in further, not get pushed back by the restraints of the found footage aesthetic.

It’s the kind of synergy that could’ve saved Romero’s DIARY OF THE DEAD, but again, that film was meant to be fun. HATE CRIME is a lot of things, but fun is never one of them.

Thank God.

Whether it works for you is something that no one can inform you of. All I can do is promise you that it’s a damn well made movie by a talented and dedicated group that set out to do more than sicken or cash in.

If you come across HATE CRIME on the festival circuit and you’re the type with a strong stomach and higher aspirations than the more talked about art house flick, then definitely take the time to absorb HATE CRIME. Love it or hate, you’ll be moved.

Bottom line is HATE CRIME made me physically ill, and I can’t wait to watch it again.

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