06th Aug2018

Fantasia 2018: ‘Hurt’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Emily van Raay, Andrew Creer, Michelle Treacy, Stephanie Moran, Bradley Hamilton | Written and Directed by Sonny Mallhi

hurt-poster

A peaceful sky, wind in the trees, a ladybug sitting on a blade of wheat. Nothing happens in New Caney, Texas. On Halloween night, the picture-perfect Americana of this farming town is quiet, and remains undisturbed. Time moves painfully slowly. Rose sits by herself, smoking a cigarette, scaring the kids away. She wears a mask, like so many others that night. With her husband, freshly back from the war, Rose is off to the village’s annual horror show. Everything is fake – the scar, the red paper blood and the harness on the hanged woman. Only death is real. But the only way to tell you about death is to let you see it for yourself.

Sonny Mallhi is not the kind of filmmaker that has the same name recogntion as his peers, however Mallhi was the producer on films like The Strangers, House at the End of the Street and the fantastic At the Devils Door (aka Home); yet he’s also wrote teen horror/thrillers like The Roommate and Crush. His directorial debut, Anguish, played at Glasgow Frightfest in 2016 and at the time I was less than impressed – that film took more from the teen drama of his scripts rather than the sheer terror of the films he produced.

So it was with some trepidation that I approached Hurt. Trepidation that was well founded…

Much like Mallhi’s previous film, Hurt is all style and no substance. Don’t get me wrong, Mallhi can do tension, a sense of foreboding – he’s got “ominous horror” tropes down pat. But there’s nothing to back it up. It was exactly the same with Anguish. The difference here is that his first film felt like a psychological take on J-horror, but this is a psychological take on the slaher movie. and no one wants to see a psychological take on slashers do they? After all, what makes the genre are the kills, the characters and most of all the fun. Hurt is not fun. It’s the opposite of fun.

Hurt is also the kind of horror film that non-horror fans would say ISN’T horror… It’s a thriller, a drama with scares, a diatribe on the effects of war (one of the characters suffers from PTSD) and the breakdown of family/society. In other words Sonny Mallhi has made a film that despises the very genre in which it sits. He’s CLEARLY aiming for highbrow but to the detriment of making a watchable film. Whilst there are the trappings and tropes of the slasher within Hurt‘s brief running time (a run time which feels anything BUT brief) this is more the implied horror of Final Exam rather than the all-out gore of a Friday the 13th film. And much like Final Exam, it’s as dull as dishwater.

Hurt screened at this years Fantasia Festival on Thursday July 26th.

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