06th Oct2012

Grimmfest 2012 Review: ‘Hate Crime’

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Jody Barton, Nicholas Clark, Greg Depetro, Debbie Diesel, Sloane Morgan Siegel, Maggie Wagner, Tim Moran, Ian Roberts | Written by James Cullen Bressack, Jarret Cohen | Directed by James Cullen Bresack


Let’s get the standard caveat out of the way first – I hate, no, loathe the “found-footage” sub-genre of horror, it’s often used as a cheap and easy way to tell a bad story. There are of course exceptions to this rule – of which Hate Crime is one.

Hate Crime has, at it’s core, a very simple premise. A family are gathered together to celebrate the birthday of the youngest member and as the father has done every year, he films the occasion. Only this year is different, in the midst of the celebration the family are subjected to a violent home invasion by a trio of masked men brandishing guns and waving swastikas, determined to perpetrate the most vicious attack on this seemingly innocent Jewish family… From the get-go you know this film is going to be different. Wasting absolutely no time in getting to the action,the film throws you in at the deep end and makes you complicit in the violent, and often degrading, crimes of the three intruders. In what I think a first for the sub-genre, Hate Crime tells the story through the “eyes” of the perpetrators and not the victims and beyond a brief argument between the husband and wife, we know nothing about the family whose fate is held in the hands of the masked men we’re seemingly sided with.

I previously reviewed director James Cullen Bressack’s My Pure Joy which, at the time, I thought pushed the boundaries of what is acceptable in horror. Little did I know that a year later Bressack would helm a film that goes much further, throwing political correctness out of the window to create a raw, emotive and disturbing film that many will decry as nothing more than torture porn, made purely as a vehicle for the horrific – in the same vein as films such as the August Underground series et al. – but Hate Crime is much more than that. It’s a tour-de-force in reality filmmaking, taking the sub-genre to a whole new level.

Reminiscent of notorious exploitation flicks such as The Last House on the Left and The House on the Edge of the Park, Hate Crime features the same hyper-brutality seen in those movies, however by using the “found-footage” format director Bressack takes things further than you can imagine, succeeding where the recent Maniac remake (shot in POV format) failed. That film, despite it’s best efforts, still felt like a Hollywood movie. But Hate Crime doesn’t, it actually feels, for want of a better phrase, like a “snuff” movie, helped no doubt by the very real performances of it’s actors…

In the end Hate Crime is an audio-visual assault on the senses and the type of film where you feel the need to take a shower afterwards (to wash off the grubbiness).


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