“SOME KIND OF HATE” (Stanley Film Festival Review)Movies/TV,News,Reviews Ken W. Hanley
For a very long time, even here at FANGORIA, fright fans have long wondered what will happen to the once-prominent slasher subgenre in the future of horror. In the years since the SCREAM franchise offered a post-modern commentary on slasher tropes and expectations, the subgenre has struggled to maintain popularity, especially as the rise in supernatural horror coincided with the retroactive vilification of the slasher archetype. Some wondered if slashers would have to rewrite their formula altogether, while others imagined the subgenre would stick to the torture porn-adjacent straight-to-video output seen today. But for many, there remained a glimmer of hope that the subgenre would find an original, engrossing story that would act as an adrenaline shot to the dying heart of the slasher. And now, that film has been found with Adam Egypt Mortimer’s SOME KIND OF HATE, which, under the right circumstances, could hit contemporary audiences with a brutal, cringe-inducing and legitimately frightening rush in the same way Freddy Krueger did over 30 years ago.
SOME KIND OF HATE has a simple and incredibly effective story, as we follow the troubled Lincoln Taggert (Ronen Rubinstein, offering a pitch-perfect Danzig-esque slouch and authentic piercing stare) in a holistic reform program following a violent encounter with a bully, only to find that the same kind of torment has followed him there. In his desperation, he accidentally unleashes the spirit of Moira (played by the amazing and hopefully breakout star Sierra McCormick), a teen driven to death by bullying who has manifested her hate into a supernaturally driven revenge. From there, the film goes into horror hyperdrive, offering a truly brilliant, imaginative and even emotional experience unlike anything fans have really ever seen before, especially when they get a taste of how Moira exacts her stomach-turning revenge.
While SOME KIND OF HATE is guaranteed to please any and every type of horror fan, whether they be gorehounds, psychological horror fans or those just in need of a good fright, the film works even greater by being a legitimately great film. Lincoln’s inescapable rage and depression is more multi-faceted than that of a terrified and emotional teenager, and when faced with a potential reform school romance, the progress of the relationship is more interesting and unpredictable than what most horror movies can offer. But aside from that, SOME KIND OF HATE also offers a strong subplot involving the staff of the reform program, giving the film even more engaging characters to keep the story interesting and fresh in between the bloody action.
Which brings me to the next point: the bloody action itself. Once Moira creeps her way into the film, SOME KIND OF HATE becomes easily one of the most effectively bloody and gruesome American offerings this writer has seen in quite some time. And once her specific power is revealed- which is a genuinely genius and new method that spins the slasher mentality on its head- SOME KIND OF HATE mines every squeamish and uncomfortable moment with a serious mindset. And yet, somehow, even despite how affecting Lincoln’s plight can be and how disturbing Moira’s attacks can be, SOME KIND OF HATE is still a fun movie in the way that most slasher movies are fun: sometimes, asshole characters get what is coming to them, and when the film runs out of them, the hunt is already on.
SOME KIND OF HATE also establishes Adam Egypt Mortimer as a force to reckon with as a director, implementing a keen understanding of the genre while juggling an intense and intimate tale that surrounds an uneasy subject matter. Mortimer put his blood, sweat and tears into making SOME KIND OF HATE, and it certainly shows: there is passion in every frame of this film, offering a fearless and imaginative vision with an old-school mentality that refuses to fall into slasher homage territory. Mortimer and co-writer Brian DeLeeuw also put the story and character over the action, and wisely so, as they deliver on the action expertly while offering a well-rounded and dramatic tale of zeitgeist-tapping terror. Likewise, Mortimer surrounds himself with an equally effective crew: director of photography Benji Bakshi gives the film a sleek and unique visual structure, Josh Ethier cuts the film with an intense understanding of Mortimer’s cinematic language, and the score from Robert Allaire beats on the audience’s heart and mind heavily like a tribal drum.
The film also sports an incredible cast that delivers memorable performances across the board. Aside from Rubinstein and McCormick, who are both outright perfect in their roles, Grace Phipps is also genuinely smashing in her role as Kaitlin, the sultry object of Lincoln’s affections who secretly harbors a shockingly dark side of her own. Additionally, Spencer Breslin is equally impressive as Lincoln’s friend Isaac, offering a much more sympathetic and human take on what would normally be a comic relief role. And the rest of the cast is phenomenal in their own unique ways, including Lexi Atkins, Brando Eaton, Maestro Harrell and the indie one-two punch of the dependable Noah Segan and acclaimed filmmaker/actor Michael Polish. Hell, even one-time Leatherface Andrew Bryniarski delivers an intense performance as Lincoln’s abusive father in a single early scene.
But above all else, SOME KIND OF HATE posits a potential new behemoth in the horror world, with Moira’s supernatural slasher offering catharsis and pathos in a way that Freddy, Jason and Michael never could. Moira is a well-rounded and emotional character in SOME KIND OF HATE, yet is also a complete badass and psychopath, which makes her attacks all the more effective. And considering just how her set of skills operate, Moira isn’t a character that is easily shaken off one’s psyche, which is literally what nightmares are made of. This writer thinks SOME KIND OF HATE has officially launched a female slasher icon in Moira that will live on beyond the film, and should we find more tales of Moira and her ilk, it certainly would not be unwelcome.
In the same way IT FOLLOWS applied the slasher construct to the ghost story, SOME KIND OF HATE’s clever flipping of the formula and rich storytelling make for the kind of horror film that doesn’t come around often. It’s strong, scary, smart and sinister, with director Mortimer giving fright fans a bloody bash while telling an ultimately tragic tale. But at the end of the day, SOME KIND OF HATE has done the nearly impossible, rejuvenating the slasher subgenre as a whole with the potential to grow into a beast of its own design. And if the film finds an audience- and make no mistake, SOME KIND OF HATE is an audience picture- there’s a good chance that it could be the next contemporary horror classic.