No, it isn’t about “hating crime.”
Directed by: James Cullen Bressack
Stars: Greg Depetro, Debbie Diesel, and Nicholas Clark
“Torture Porn” is a term that has been adopted to describe certain films that heavily involve elements of torture, rape, or acts of degradation within them. It is intended as a pejorative to discredit any merits or intentions on the part of the filmmaker who is exploring these deplorable sections of human behavior. It is the opinion of this writer that the term can only be appropriately applied to the most extreme versions of actual pornography. No horror filmmaker uses torture or rape as a device to sexually arouse or stimulate. More often than not, they are using them as tools to horrify and disturb, or as replacements for building suspense or tension. Are they guilty of exploitation? More than likely, yes. Guilty of pornography? Absolutely not. Though, some films occasionally come along that even challenge these assertions. The latest is the upcoming indie horror film, HATE CRIME.
HATE CRIME has a very basic premise. A family comes together to celebrate a birthday when they unexpectedly become the victims of a violent home invasion. It has been requested by the filmmakers that no further details be given regarding the plot or the characters. This will be a simple request to grant as there is basically nothing else of note to divulge. The purpose of the title HATE CRIME is made apparent very early in the movie, but the idea is never explored in any meaningful or interesting way. The movie plays out, more or less, as you expect it to, and the characters offer no surprises for the viewer either.
Instead of an actual story, the viewer is subjected to one awful act of violence after another, with very little context or purpose to give them any value. The filmmakers attempt to frame all of this as social commentary in an effort to give the film weight and meaning. However, that commentary only comes at the very end, and it doesn’t excuse or justify the pointlessness of the events in the film itself. No attempt is made to examine the impact the violence is having on the victims, nor is any attempt made to understand why the villains exact such extreme measures against their prey outside of the occasional racial slur. Nothing is being effectively communicated to the audience when the characters, victims and villains, are constantly screaming at each other, crying, or laughing. It’s just loud noises and ugliness, with no effort put in to make any sense out of it.
On the actual production side, there’s not much to praise. The writing is juvenile, from the dialogue to the events themselves. The directing is uninspired. The film utilizes the found footage style, and to very little effect. The acting all-around is one-note, though it seems unfair to blame them considering the material they were given. The only merit this movie has is the quality of the special make-up effects. There are some very graphic moments in the film, and the make-up goes a long way towards making them seem authentic.
HATE CRIME. It’s a film that strives to be important and bring awareness to a serious issue. The problem is that it never rises above being an exercise in torture and torment. It will be embraced by the same crowd that enjoys the Guinea Pig or the August Underground series, but people looking for a film with an actual plot and characters with purpose will be left wanting.
HATE CRIME has no set release date or platform as of this writing. It cannot be recommended at all by this critic.
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