It may be a disservice to call debut feature film from director Adam Egypt Mortimer, Some Kind of Hate. a simple slasher film. While it goes above and beyond in its creation of a new supernatural serial killer, it also has social undertones and commentary about bullying. Having both the antagonist, Moira Karp (Sierra McCormick), and the protagonist, Lincoln Taggert (Ronen Rubenstein), share similar experiences not only with each other but with the creature as well creates a fascinating dynamic that drives the film. Grace Phipps (Scream Queens, Tales of Halloween) rounds out the cast as a similarly troubled teen Kaitlin who battles pain by cutting. The film is appropriately bloody providing plentiful crimson splatter for horror fans graving gore and effects. The film struggles with an inefficacious back story that lacks the emotional punch to elevate the film and, potentially, invigorate audiences further. Combined with conventional characters beyond the main cast, the film never reaches the potential of the concept, the creation and the direction. Regardless, Some Kind of Hate is well worth testing the scrutiny of horror fans, especially slasher fans, where it will likely find fans to champion it.
The script follows the meek, but likable, Lincoln Taggert (played by Ronen Rubenstein) who is abused at home by a drunkard father and bullied at school by merciless, callous jocks. Lincoln has a bit of a temper and, once he reaches the breaking point, he strikes back, stabbing the bully in the face. This results in his being sent to a reform camp for troubled teens to be “reconditioned” so he can improve his social skills. Unfortunately for Lincoln, the camp is full of bullies who have no intention of changing their ways. “Out of the fry pan,” as they say.
Lincoln does find solace in a few new friends: a hacker named Isaac (Spencer Breslin) and a girl-on-the-edge, Kaitlin (Phipps) who, unlike her class-mates, does actually want to change. Lincoln is cornered by the bullies until he strikes back but to no avail. He retreats to a hidden area of the camp where he discovers the buried secrets of the camp’s past, the death of a young student named Moira (McCormick). Moira’s violent, vengeful spirit reaches out to Lincoln, resulting in a bloody killing spree, beginning with those who have wronged Lincoln before moving on to the councilors guarding the horrible secret of Moira’s fate.
Moira, once she takes over the narrative, grows into an enticing concept, both in origin and in execution. She attacks by cutting herself with the effects of those lacerations transferring to her victims. Wounds open and blood spurts forth. Director Adam Egypt Mortimer makes the most of the concept balancing the approach, the effects and the impact. The more the film focuses on Moira, the better it becomes. One notable scene has her staring down one character while she slices her own throat to off another character trapped behind her a few yards away. It helps that she is far more complex than most slashers. She is far more than a shadowed figure, an unstoppable monster, she screams with her emotions and attacks with fury. When she bashes her head against a wall to dispatch a helpless prey, the effect is brutal and bloody. It also helps that Sierra McCormick thoroughly embodies Moira’s madness, overcoming a less-than-frightening stature of the character and making Moira imposing and frightening.
Ronen Rubenstein and Grace Phipps make for terrific leads as Lincoln and Kaitlin. Each character is imperfect and flawed which helps the story providing a more complex conflict than simply being the “final girl” or the standard good-guy trying to survive the night. Their characters make bad decisions that affect the story with both Rubenstein and Phipps fully invested in their roles. Their plight is compelling. It is to their credit that the outcome of their characters – whether they will remain strong or succumb to Moira’s temptations – is a captivating as Moira’s onslaught and destruction.
Adam Egypt Mortimer shows great promise as an up-and-coming horror director especially the more Some Kind of Hate dives into the script’s horrific scenes. Most of the issues with the film revolve around the supporting characters and their subplots. Their motivations behind being bullies or hiding secrets are often underdeveloped causing their scenes to slow down the film. If the characters of Willie (Maestro Harrell) and Derek (Brando Eaton) were to offer a little more dimension, the conflict between them and Lincoln would be more compelling and their demises would have more punch. The camp counselors are rudimentary with Christine’s attempt to address Moira’s temper face-to-face being the most successful. In this respect, as compared to Lincoln, Kaitlin and Moira, the film is far more buried in its slasher roots with these characters. Regardless, when Adam Egypt Mortimer turns his attention to Moira against any of them, Some Kind of Hate lights up and the tone instantly improves.
Some Kind of Hate (3 / 5)
Available on DVD/Blu-ray November 3, 2015