Sins from the past return to terrorize the present in this shocker from a producer of Halloween. When recent college grad Regan goes to a family’s house to babysit their daughter for the weekend, she invites her three best gal pals along. What starts as a girls’ getaway becomes a journey into hell, as the young women discover the house is haunted by a dark and violent history involving a Nazi (Wishmaster’s Andrew Divoff), his daughter, and an ancient artifact that feeds on fear.
Horror is a very subjective genre. Depending on your audience, your big scares are either going to elicit shrieks of terror or some unfortunate unintentional laughs. How an audience reacts is a razor thin line. As such, when you're trying to concoct the next big horror event, you have got to make sure your machine is firing on all cylinders. One misfire can stutter your momentum and bring your flick's reign of terror to a screeching halt. Writer/Director Michael G. Kehoe's latest entry in low-budget horror The Hatred aims high with a strong concept and visual execution but some stumbles in setup and plot keep the flick from crossing the finish line. That said, it still tries hard and a better than average cast with some good jumps make up for the shortfalls.
Fifty years ago, a seemingly innocent swath of farmland was owned and occupied by the Sears family. The German-born Samuel Sears (a delightfully creepy Andrew Divoff), his wife, and their young teenage daughter Alice (Darby Walker) live in solitude. Samuel is strict, controlling, methodical, and worse of all maniacal about keeping his daughter away from civilization, forbidding her from ever going into town or to school. Samuel isn't just a strict man, but actually an escaped Nazi in possession of a precious ancient artifact that once belonged to Hitler himself. After Alice disappeared and Samuel died in a terrible accident, his wife abandoned the property. Today, it's been renovated, a family with a young daughter live there, and everything is fine - supposedly. When college student Regan (Sarah Davenport) and her friends come to visit to help babysit for the weekend, pure evil can't be contained as the true evil of Samuel is revealed.
Overall, I kinda liked The Hatred. Far from flawless, it's at least a movie that tries its best on a meager budget - which is more than can be said about some over-budgeted movies of late. Again, that isn't to say that this movie is the next best thing in horror, it isn't, but I won't deny I was entertained by it. Writer/director Michael G. Kehoe took a basic approach to the haunted house genre, put a little spin on it and populated the flick with an almost all female cast that isn't there to take their clothes off. Produced by Malek Akkad of the Halloween franchise, there is some effective jump scares with decent visuals but sadly, that's about all its got going for it.
The rough edges within The Hatred are hard to ignore. While the setup is a fantastic cross between the cabin in the woods and a haunted house, the film fails to setup rules. The evil Nazi artifact is a bit of a non-starter as it's forgotten once the prologue is wrapped up. None of the main cast actually really discover it or the numerous secrets Samuel Sears was hiding. Somehow a family completely renovated the property from top to bottom with modern conveniences and never discovered the artifact or the trove of documents that flatly state that Samuel Sears was an escaped Nazi war criminal. This fault got me wondering, what if these weren't a group of attractive women on vacation but the unfortunate crew assigned to renovate the home after it's been rotting away? They discover bad things, evil escapes, terror ensues and disposable cast members die in gratuitous fountains of viscera. The cast could still be all female, that wouldn't need to change, but already just altering the circumstances of the setting makes for a more interesting and potentially more terrifying experience.
Again, this is a movie that was certainly shot on an extremely limited budget. What it manages to do while not always effective is at least impressive considering circumstances. Call me a soft heart for low budget independent horror flicks with lofty aspirations. I didn't hate The Hatred and I didn't love it either. It's rough and not a total success, but it does have a few creepy moments and serves as a solid proof of concept. Maybe with a few more bucks and a longer production time, The Hatred could be something more than it currently is. Give it a shot, you may enjoy it. It certainly isn't boring.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
The Hatred arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment in a single-disc Blu-ray with Digital HD set. The film is pressed onto a Region A BD-25 disc and is housed in an eco-friendly Blu-ray case with identical slip cover artwork. The disc loads to an animated main menu with traditional navigation options.
The Hatred arrives with a digitally sourced 2.40:1 1080p transfer. While clarity is genuinely good, colors are robust, and black levels are solid. However, there are some baked in digital flaws that are difficult to ignore. There are some softness issues that crop up, some video noise, and at times the image can lack a sense of depth and dimension leaving it unfortunately very flat looking. There are some banding issues that crop up from time to time but don't totally tear you away from the show. Thankfully when it matters most this image is pretty great and provides a creepy and atmospheric experience. Basement and dark rooms look particularly ominous with strong black levels. Colors are also a strong point for this transfer with great earth tones, strong accurate primaries, and healthy flesh tones. All around a flawed but still very strong looking image.
The Hatred arrives with a solid Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix. Right out of the gate there is a great amount of LFE activity playing up the creepy low dissonant tones to great effect. The dialogue comes through clean and clear without any issues. Scoring is strong throughout and also plays into the creepy ominous tones of the mix. With nice ebbs and flows, the surround activity of the mix is pretty active with only a few lulls in the action. It's a nice and creepy sound mix that works well for the film. Levels are spot on, once you've got the lights out and the volume set comfortably you should be good to go.
Like many releases, The Hatred isn't exactly bursting at the seams with bonus features content. At least what's here isn't terrible. The Audio commentary is actually pretty informative - especially if you're interested in making films on a shoestring budget.
The Hatred - Behind The Scenes (HD 12:00) May be a bit more on the EPK side of things but is far more thorough than the average bonus feature.
Audio Commentary Featuring writer/director Michael S. Kehoe and Malek Akkad, it's a solid commentary track that's worth a listen should you want to give it a spin.
The Hatred may not be a great horror movie, or even a particularly good one, but it tries. While some story contrivances and budget constraints show their heads and bring down the overall experience, I still had fun with the flick. Some good creepy bits make it at the very least worth looking at. Anchor Bay brings the film to Blu-ray with a solid A/V presentation and a couple decent bonus features. It's not the best creep show out there, but it isn't the worst either. If you find it in your path, give it a rent. You might have a good time with it.