J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Some Kind of Hate: Cutters Unite

Horror movies were way ahead of the mainstream media when it came to addressing the issue of bullying. Perhaps only overbearing mothers created more serial killers than bullies. Ever hear of a chick named Carrie? She and Moira would be kindred spirits. Spirit really is the right term for the latter. She was bullied to death, but now she is back to take care of business in Adam Egypt Mortimer’s Some Kind of Hate (trailer here), which opens tomorrow in New York.

One day, the high school bullies pushed Lincoln Taggert too far—and now he has to serve time in Mind's Eye Academy, a Kumbaya reform camp. Naturally, the hippy dippy administrators do not realize the exact same bullying is happening right under their noses. When his new tormentors try to pick up where the high school bullies left off, Taggert’s rage summons the spirit of Moira.

She too was unjustly remanded to the camp and mercilessly targeted by the sadistic popular clique. One day their harassment turned deadly, but they closed ranks and covered it up. Conveniently, it seems like the worst offenders are still around as counselors. Moira can’t wait to reconnect. She was once a cutter and now she can do unto other by doing unto herself. It all rather alarms Taggert, but Kaitlin the disgraced cheerleader will help facilitate her killing spree out of a sense of guilt from her own fatal bullying. They also happen to be fellow cutters.

Some Kind of Hate, echoing the old John Hughes title, pulls off some tricky balancing acts. It reflects an up-to-the-minute sensibility regarding bullying without feeling overly didactic or After School Special­-ish. The characters seem quite contemporary, but the look and vibe evokes early Wes Craven. Moira’s killing technique is also pretty original and deeply unsettling in a way genre fans will appreciate.

However, Ronen Rubinstein just does not seem to fit the part of Taggert. It is not that he is bad in the part, per se. In fact, he actually shows some skills. He just does not look like a prime bullying target. Every time someone decides to mess with him, you have to wonder why they picked the dude who looks like Danny Zuko. On the other hand, Disney-starlet Grace Phipps brings the right Kevin Williamson attitude as Kaitlin. It is also sort ironic to see Twin Falls Idaho and Big Sur director Michael Polish appear as one of the administrators just as his Evangelical-themed film 90 Minutes in Heaven releases. He’s had an interesting career.

Hardcore horror fans will be happy to know SKOH was edited Josh Ethier (Digging Up the Marrow, We Are Still Here). It is cut together well and cinematographer Benji Bakshi makes it all look quite eerie, in a sweaty, humid kind of way. By slasher standards, it is quite well made, but it might be too dark in terms of mood and morale for casual genre viewers. Recommended for those like their horror straight, with no chaser, Some Kind of Hate opens tomorrow (9/18) in New York, at the Village East.