Hurt is an exceptional dark domestic drama by director Barbara Stepansky, especially for having gone straight to the disc market without a peep, about a scorned little foster child brought into a struggling family household. Very eye catching from the get-go, with some clever use of credits passing through desert bushes, we see a car crash on the side of a desert highway, and a wolf checking out the scene, where a bloody hand hangs out the window of a mangled car.
The Coltrane’s have just moved to the desert after the sudden death of their father and husband. Two kids in their late teens (Johanna Braddy, and Jackson Rathbone of Twilight fame) find themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere, coping with their junkyard environment and grief, living with their dad’s brother (“Ethan”, of LOST fame – William Mapother), uncomfortable with the whole situation at hand. Mom (Melora Walters) is tearful and drained with sadness, but attempts to make the best of their lives while they wait for the settlement to come in.
Then a social worker informs Helen that her deceased husband took care of a young foster child named Sarah (played very well by Sofia Vassilieva of My Sister’s Keeper fame). Found being beaten at the home upon visiting, Helen feels compelled to give it a shot and bring Sarah into their household.
Thing begin to go wrong. A special White Fang hardcover, given to Lenore by her father, is found shredded. The beloved pet duckling Jefferson is found dead with a broken neck. Precious items are discovered broken or come up missing – small annoyances that start to have the entire family on edge. Someone in the house is playing games, setting everyone against each other. Can you guess who it is?
Without spoiling the fragile plot, Ill just say that the reasons are fully explained for the antagonist’s bitter desire to see everyone in the house suffer and they fit the plot and early foreshadowing just perfect. One character is impaled by a pipe (primarily implied, not shown outright, for those who come for the blood), another commits suicide, and our last victim takes brain death via a pipe deep in the ear socket before all is said and done, as those who are left rediscover their own clarity through battling the deception and struggle to survive.
Final analysis: Hurt sports a deceptive DVD cover, but its enough to lure horror viewers in to a finely polished go at a typically mundane premise, light-R style. Riding a fine line between horror, thriller, and drama – all actors do a smooth job – the lighting, production, and directing above non-theatrical par, as is the script. In fact, aside from the uninspiring synopsis and lack of advertising to bring this to people’s attention – consider Hurt an ace up the sleeve of your local release listings. Its not a rip-off of Orphan, although it could be related to any “bad child” film with a stretch. Face down and hidden, Hurt should reveal itself to be a slightly better than average, finely tuned, family oriented thriller that holds its worth and your lighter morbid, late night interests.