Director: James Cullen Brassack
Starring: Jody Barton, Nicholas Clark, Debbie Diesel. Tim Morgan, Maggie Wagner, Greg Depetro, Ian Roberts
Running Time: 73 Minutes
Synopsis: Whilst a young Jewish family record their youngest son’s birthday celebrations, their new home is suddenly invaded by crystal meth-crazed neo-nazis.
We’re back in ‘found-footage’ territory again for this extreme crime-thriller, which I’ll state from the off: I did not enjoy HATE CRIME and if there’s anyone out there that does or did, they’re seriously fucked in the head. Now this isn’t necessarily a mark against the director and cast, who really do put sterling work in, it’s just one of those films impossible to enjoy or get any real satisfaction from. I can’t class it as entertainment. For starters, I feel the majority of film audiences are growing tired of ‘found-footage’ and the latest one I recently caught, horror anthology V/H/S, showed that the ‘gimmick’ just doesn’t always work, more often than not feeling cheap, tacky or just simple rubbish. With HATE CRIME, for once the ‘continuous camcorder recording’ (which usually has us rolling our eyes) makes sense and is acceptable, but it truly is punishing to sit through.
I often ask myself why I own a film like HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER, because no matter how many viewings I’ve made of John McNaughton’s film, I’ve never enjoyed it. Yet, in my eyes it’s a masterpiece, a fascinating character study of a man (or men if you include Tom Towles’ Otis) capable of sinking to the depths of depravity for the thrill and enjoyment of seeing others’ pain and suffering. Michael Rooker’s performance is truly outstanding and I always felt had HENRY not been the film it is, Rooker would and should have had an Oscar. I’m not attempting to compare Bressack’s film to HENRY, however, HATE CRIME is effectively that harrowing and infamous ‘home invasion’ scene from the 1986 classic, for the whole running time in this film… and it really is unflinching in its portrayal of a loving Jewish family’s night of celebration, turned into the worst nightmare imaginable, without any pause for breath.
It’s young Alex’s birthday, and just as the family lights the candles, in storm three gun-toting masked tattooed neo-nazis, threatening extreme force, sprouting anti-semtisim and quoting Hitler. Being a husband and father myself, never have I wanted to be with my own family more. Perhaps that’s the point, as the film, come the conclusion, certainly hammers home the fact: however much we’re repelled by such acts in film and television, it does happen in real life. In fact, it’s suggested that the film is based on actual real-life events (even giving statistics of such crimes and the characters featured in this story). If this is the case, it’s enough to make you board up the doors and windows from the outside world. It makes a sad statement about the world in which we live.
We’re shown vivid acts of violence, rape, forced incest and torture involving both the innocents and the aggressors. Unfortunately, there’s no happy ending, no satisfyingly graphic revenge plot to compare it to maybe THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT or I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE as the trio get their comeuppance (well, maybe one). Nevertheless, it’s just a plain, all round nasty experience but in some strange sense, I can’t call it a bad film. To quote an ever-familiar phrase ‘It does what it says on the tin.’ Whether you can accept that or not, it’s really up to the individual viewer.
Unlike HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER, I won’t be adding this to my DVD/Blu-ray collection and I won’t be revisiting HATE CRIME anytime soon… if ever! Now, time to check on the family.
Explicit, graphic, torturous, terrifying… Unnesassary?
HATE CRIME is still awaiting a release.