[BD Review] ‘Hate Crime’ Is An Alarming Wake-Up Call

Reviewed by Alex Wiggins

Horror is such a broad term. Literally anything could be considered horrific or scary depending on how it is depicted. When it comes to films, many viewers connect ‘horror’ with campy slashers or icons such as Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers. Recently, however the genre has tried shaking off these familiar shackles and breaking new ground by entering more realistic territory. Now, films attempt to capture typical horror scenarios in real time on hand held cameras and other motion capturing devices. Nevertheless, despite the realism brought by introducing the story via found footage, very few films maintain a plot line that is believable or isn’t typical run of the mill horror stories.

It’s quite evident in the film Hate Crime that director James Cullen Bressack took note of this technique and decided to use it correctly. Hate Crime follows the sickening story of a Jewish family that is simply celebrating the youngest son’s birthday and is plunged into a fight for survival as a trio of anti-Semitics crashes the party. From the sound of it, one would think this is just some home invasion flick much in the tradition of The Strangers, right? Wrong. Crime is one of the most realistic portrayals of pure fear and terror in modern day society and seeks to expose the atrocious actions of monsters that punish those who don’t fit their image of ‘normal’.

I imagine that the reaction one has naturally to this film is the reaction the creators of Saw and Human Centipede strive for their viewers to have. Yet, Crime hardly relies on fancy gimmicks or overly gory violence to make the viewer squirm. The film uses a much more disturbing and bizarre method in order to invoke fear: the truth. People such as the intruders in Crime really are out there in the world, and they really do rape, torture, abuse, and murder families in front of one another. The only difference between reading about these crimes in the papers and hearing about them on the news is now audiences can witness the horror firsthand. Bressack delivers an unapologetic punch of a cinematic experience that’s bubbling with mediocre to respectable acting skills by the cast, simplistic yet creative methods of camera work and lightening (that makes the film unravel in real time and makes one sometimes forget they aren’t just watching some messed up home video), and the depraved morals of a trio of psychos who feel what they’re doing is nothing short of justified.

Now, I must personally praise two specific aspects of this film. First, Maggie Wagner (Melissa) gives a performance nothing shy of brave and committed. A mother forced to the most embarrassing and lowest forms of humiliation as she tries to stay brave for her children is quite a stretch for anyone’s acting skills (especially considering what torture is forced upon her) and Wagner handles the role wonderfully. Secondly, the make-up departments, for its brilliant use of prosthetic make-up and focus to detail and depth rather than gross out or gore!

Despite all these surprising features of the film, it’s certainly as flawed as any other movie out there. In some scenes the actors tend to over do their characters a bit too much. On top of that, some scenes (to be specific the bathroom scene with the daughter) seemed dragged out and ultimately slow the fast pace that the first eight minutes quickly sets up. However, the messages and morals of the film are what truly shine. The theme of corruption and intolerance are beautiful and as impactful as the messages of fellow exploitation films such as I Spit on Your Grave and Last House on the Left. All together, Hate Crime delivers a sadistic, yet honest and faithful twist on typical home invasion flicks while bringing light to a widely ignored issue of intolerance and well….hate crimes. But, I feel it is one of the more ambitious films released recently that contains an alarming wake-up call to the world.

Official Score

  • DeadInHell

    Seriously, who is this a “wake up call” for? You? Me? I was already pretty straight on the “don’t invade people’s homes and murder them because of their race” thing. At best, Hate Crime is preaching to the choir. A psychotic neo-nazi watching this isn’t going to be heartwarmed and mindblown, he’s going to enjoy it on an aesthetic level as some kind of disgusting white power fantasy fulfillment. The same way that some people watch Rape and Revenge films for the rape scenes.

    I would much, much rather have a new Jason or Michael than another pointless, hamfisted home invasion retread (especially one that is also a pointless, hamfisted found footage retread). Hate Crime is no budget, no talent baby’s-first-movie quality garbage. The most frightening thing about it is having to sit through yet another excruciating attempt to re-write the the same scenario that exists in every one of these films. Add the fact that it’s being delivered via the tired cliche of found footage and the real horror is what you’re doing to the viewer. This is literally the least appealing film I can imagine.

    • ihearthorror

      I am so confused by your rant. You obviously didn’t like the movie, but you mention that you dislike found footage films. You knew it was a found footage film before you watched… Why then, did you watch it? It seems like you just want to be negative instead of constructive. Filmmakers work incredibly hard to get their film out there and it’s sad when people who don’t even like the style or genre watch, knowing they’re going to hate it. I really don’t understand that!

  • Pappy

    I love the style and love the genre, but this was bad.

    This COULD have been a good movie, with a better budget and in the hands of a French extreme horror filmmaker, but here with no budget and in the bad hands, it’s awful. God awful. Very lame.

    At least A Serbian Film is a legitimate movie. *beep* up, but still a movie. So are plenty of other home invasion torture movies. I don’t know what to call this, but it’s not a movie. I wanted to like it, but it’s so bad you can’t.

    Yes no movie is without it’s flaws, but these ones are over the top. Beyond horrible acting, no nudity (they don’t even pretend to pull the mom’s panties down for the rape scenes…okay…) and yeah, just bad.

    The reviewer mentions I Spit on Your Grave and Last House on the Left. This not a revenge film. This is more of a home invasion low budget, bad acting, we want to be hard-R but no nudity or good depiction of the brutality version of Frontiere(s).

    Again, this COULD have been good. With a better budget and in the right hands.