Studio: Image Entertainment
Director: Adam Egypt Mortimer
Writer: Brian DeLeeuw, Adam Egypt Mortimer
Producer: Amanda Mortimer, Adam Egypt Mortimer, Gabriela Revilla Lugo, Dallas Sonnier, Jack Heller
Stars: Ronen Rubinstein, Grace Phipps, Maestro Harrell, Lexi Atkins, Sierra McCormick, Noah Segan, Andrew Bryniarski, Spencer Breslin, Michael Polish
A troubled teenager inadvertently summons a vengeful ghost to take on the bullies at a reform school camp.
After retaliating against a high school bully by putting a fork in his tormenter’s face, troubled teenager Lincoln Taggert is shipped off to Mind’s Eye Academy, a combination reform school and seeming cult compound at an isolated camp in the California desert. The location changes, but the situation doesn’t. Even though he gains a new friend in bunkmate Isaac and romantic interest in cheerleader-gone-bad Kaitlin, Lincoln trades one problem for another when Willie emerges as the new troublemaker throwing insults into his ear and punches into his face.
Lincoln retreats to a cellar for solace and wishes out loud for Willie to be dead. Someone hears him. And she wants to oblige.
It turns out that Lincoln is not the first bullying victim to descend into desperation on the campus of Mind’s Eye Academy. Moira Karp once found herself in the same place too, and her apparent way out was through a razor blade to the wrist. Inadvertently conjured by Lincoln’s boiling hatred and teenage frustration, Moira returns as a supernatural spirit ready to carry out Lincoln’s desire for revenge and then some. Lincoln now has an even greater problem of figuring out exactly how to put this genie back into her bottle, if such a thing is even possible.
One way to quickly categorize director Adam Egypt Mortimer’s “Some Kind of Hate” is as a vengeful teenage ghost story, not entirely unlike somewhat similarly themed thrillers such as “Ouija” (review here) or “Unfriended” (review here). Whereas films like the latter two are designed to attract high-schoolers looking for R-rated fun on a Friday night, “Some Kind of Hate” doesn’t have the same Cineplex sheen of popcorn appeal. That’s a good thing. More conventional youth-centric thrillers might have an edge as mainstream draws with their prettily populated casts and hollow jump jolts. “Some Kind of Hate” has its sights set on mood and meaning over empty scare tactics, setting it apart in the subgenre as a more mature supernatural teen slasher.
Not only does “Some Kind of Hate” take terror seriously, it has the professional passion to execute on ambition without exceeding abilities. The setting is simple, yet the photography is stark, dark, sharp, gritty, and polished in equal doses, maintaining cohesive atmosphere no matter the moment. The cast is never campy, uninspired, or out of tune with the tone. Most important of all, the theme of bullying is not cheaply exploited. There is no heavy-handed messaging, but “Some Kind of Hate” respects the importance of its idea by creatively exploring guilt, retribution, redemption, and the limits of justifiable vengeance. This is a slasher film with style and substance.
Consider the indie horror box covers touting their films as introducing “the next” Pinhead, Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, etc. More often than not, attempts to specifically engineer slasher icons settle on marketable looks, maybe even a catchphrase or distinguishing tagline to boot, without devoting the same attention to backstory or murder motivations.
Moira does have a necklace made of razor blades, an arguably on-the-nose inclusion, but her purpose is otherwise unconcerned with an action figure-ready appearance or merchandising hook. Moira is a traumatized teenager instead of an empty-masked incarnation of all-purpose evil written to wordlessly wield a bloody blade. Although serving as an embodiment of vengeance made flesh, Moira’s most meaningful value is to center the story’s tragedy on relatable notions of sadness, sympathy, empathy, and emotion.
A misunderstood, brooding bad boy. A round-stomached, tech-savvy nerd-type for his de facto best friend. A sultry sass-mouth to give him a lip bite and a raised eyebrow for sexual tension. Despite fitting familiar biographies, “Some Kind of Hate” turns these descriptions into realistic characters instead of clichéd stereotypes. Rather than employing archetypes out of laziness or lampooning them as meta-commentary on horror tropes, Mortimer and co-writer Brian DeLeeuw simply utilize embodiments of typical teenage traits without drawing unnecessary attention by trying too hard to “be” that description.
Another reason why “Some Kind of Hate” transcends stereotyping is because it burns through its exposition rapidly. The film has enough respect for its audience to not loiter longer than necessary on establishing obvious relationship ties. Some disorientation goes along with how fast Lincoln and Isaac become friends, or Lincoln and Kaitlin become lovers for instance, but “Some Kind of Hate” is rightfully content in assuming you simply get it. That gap-hurdling pace ensures that there isn’t time for anyone to overstay a rote introduction, although the condensed pace ends up as both a boon and a hindrance.
Down the backstretch, timeline compression trades on believability. One character professes intense feelings for another under the pretense of loving him more than she has ever loved anyone, even though their total screentime from first meet to dramatic proclamation is probably about six minutes. Then comes a slow-motion “phoenix rising” sequence set to an operatic aria. The climax begins rattling into disappointment as it slips into conventions when the movie had previously demonstrated such deft efficiency at avoiding them. Some of these missteps taken to mount towards the resolution become more than the movie needs without staying in step to the style.
A retooled final 10-15 minutes might make “Some Kind of Hate” exceptional. That isn’t meant to diminish what it already achieves as a slasher film that is head, shoulders, and torso above its competition. Even with a bumpy road of underdeveloped subplots that see some characters coming and going too quickly, “Some Kind of Hate” finishes strong as a memorable, meaningful movie whose slasher is not a boogeyman, but a conduit channeling context into the commentary and heft into the horror.
NOTE: There is a mid-credits scene.
Review Score: 80