US | 2015 | Directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer
Logline: A bullied teenager is sent to a remote reform school where he accidentally summons the ghost of a girl, herself a victim of bullying, who takes vengeance on his tormentors.
This movie had many of the elements that could’ve made it a decent horror flick; the downtrodden teenager, the asshole bullies, the girl who wants to save the boy, the dodgy reformers, the remote desert valley location, the metal music, the supernatural edge, and, of course, all the bloody violence, oh, and a catchy title. Shame then that Mortimer dropped the ball with this one. I really wanted the movie to work, but early on the scrawl was on the wall.
Lincoln (Ronen Rubinstein) is a troubled young man. His drunken father (Andrew Bryniarski in a blink and you miss it appearance) is a lost cause, and at high school the class bully (Jim Greene) makes a concerted effort to humiliate Lincoln in front of everyone else. Lincoln snaps and plunges a fork into the bully’s cheek. This leads to Lincoln being sent to an isolated lo-fi school for problem kids called the Minds Eye Academy.
Out here the tuition plays second fiddle to pep talks from the Academy head Jack (Michael Polish). Jack and his right-hand man Krauss (Noah Segan) are dubious characters, but nothing compared to Moira (Sierra McCormick), the local malevolent spirit in physical form, who is trapped in a subterranean storage facility just itching to get vengeful on someone, anyone. Lincoln provides the necessary goods when he screams out in anguish one night, crying for justice on the bullies who have now targeted him at the Academy, because they heard he snaps real good.
Willie (Maestro Harrell), with the help of a couple of a couple of cohorts, is set on making Lincoln’s life a misery. Lincoln is already an emo, so not much a stretch there. Kaitlin (Grace Phipps), a striking brunette, catches Lincoln’s eye at one of the alfresco encounter sessions. It’s not long before she is stealing cigarettes and batting those big dark lashes. Lincoln is in, hook, line and sinker. He offers her his metal playlist. She responds with a kiss. Meanwhile, Moira, the bullied victim, is keen as hot mustard to give Lincoln’s tormentors a taste of their own copper medicine. Soon enough there is blood on the floor. And the wall. And the ceiling.
The screenplay, by Mortimer and Brian DeLeeuw, is a hot mess. It’s this tangled, confusing, meandering narrative that mortally wounds the movie. Why is Lincoln able to cause Moira pain, and no one else? Why didn’t the Academy get closed down after the first brutal slaying? Why is the sheriff so damn useless? Who are the Academy instructors really? Why is tough Christine (Lexi Atkins) a peripheral character for most of the movie? What was the point of Isaac (Spencer Breslin)’s character?
Despite all these frustrations, Some Kind of Hate carries some kind of curious weight, mostly in the performances, and a little in the atmosphere. The look of the movie is solid, with some of the underground scenes carrying an intense, Euro-horror vibe. The grim tone of the whole movie is brave, but a sense of humour is drastically missing, even if it was pitch black. The self-harm theme is confronting, and the special effects are solid, but it’s the performances of the female characters that keeps the movie watchable. Rubinstein is a good-looking chap, but he lacks the charisma required, and as such, he’s just a pathetic wallflower with a fringe.
The movie would’ve been a lot more interesting if Phipps had played the lead, opposite McCormick, with Atkins trying to intervene from early on, and the love interest element removed entirely.