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Some Kind of Hate
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by Jay Seaver

"Does what horror does best, and does it damn well."
5 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2015 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Is it wrong to kind of hope that a pretty great horror movie perhaps stalls out at cult favorite? "Some Kind of Hate" is a strong, smart, bloody example of what the genre can do when its aims are greater than just churning out product, and it introduces what could be an iconic horror villain as great as the ones spawned in the 1980s. That's the rub, though - I really, really don't want to see Moira Karp reduced to what the likes of Freddy Kruger, Jason Vorhees, and Michael Myers became in pop culture.

She's not the focus of the prologue - that's Lincoln Taggert (Ronen Rubinstein), bullied at home and school, and finally snapping in a way that leaves his tormentor maimed. That's why he's the one who gets shipped to a camp in the middle of the desert where troubled kids can work out their issues. His roommate Isaac (Spencer Breslin) lashed out via hacking, while former cheerleader Kaitlin (Grace Phipps) attempted suicide. Of course, there are a fair number of bullies at the camp not about to let Lincoln get too comfortable, no matter what leader Jack Iverson (Michael Polish) and graduate-cum-staffer Christine (Lexi Atkins) say, most notably Willie (Maestro Harrell). Oh, and there's Moira (Sierra McCormick), killed at the camp a few years back but still haunting the place. She wants to help Lincoln with his problems.

Moira is the best supernatural slasher to come around in years, in part because she is brilliantly conceived visually - pink kitty t-shirt combined with a necklace of razor blades, inflicting damage by cutting herself and making others feel her own pain. You could see that popping up again and again in a number of sequels. Of course, for that to happen, they'd have to recast, because part of what makes Moira so great is that she is very clearly a teenager who doesn't wear a mask or (often) speak with a distorted voice, and Sierra McCormick is going to grow out of this role, so good luck matching that. She is fantastic, tinging Moira's madness with something deserving of empathy. She and filmmaker Adam Egypt Mortimer make Moira a monster whose motivation is all too easy to understand - that is to say, the best kind.

She's just part of a fine young cast, most notably an impressive Ronen Rubinstein as the bullied camper who summons her. Rubenstein finds a good spot between Lincoln being angry and antisocial but also with a mostly-decent moral compass - kind of tricky, as a movie sometimes seems like it needs a personal motivation. Grace Phipps is thankfully given a bigger and more active part than just "girlfriend", and she does a nice job of running with it, making Kaitlin appealing and dangerous and broken at once. The cast is strong all around - Spencer Breslin and Maestro Harrell are solid support, and the tight pacing means the audience might want to see more of a few actors who don't really have as much time on-screen as they might (Lexi Atkins, Michael Polish, Noah Segan).

Director Adam Egypt Mortimer makes a great little horror movie in large part by eschewing what others find important - rather than trying to top each kill with something bigger and more creative, he goes for ones that are maybe all of a type but which work as storytelling, keeping the focus on the characters and what's causing this anger to solidify in the form of Moira. The filmmaking is sharp and carefully considered, likely enough to strike a chord rather than just seem exploitative, with nary an ounce of fat on it.

It's easy for horror movies like this to start from the conceit of "let's make a film about bullying" but eventually get lost in plot twists surface-level thrills, rather than keeping with the bits that resonate. When that focus is retained, as it is here, the horror genre is at its best. I hope it becomes a springboard for more great things rather than a franchise which dilutes its greatness.

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originally posted: 08/28/15 13:42:33
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2015 Stanley Film Festival For more in the 2015 Stanley Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2015 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the 2015 Fantasia International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2015 Bruce Campbellā€™s Horror Film Festival For more in the 2015 Bruce Campbellā€™s Horror Film Festival series, click here.

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  18-Sep-2015 (NR)



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