Director: Michael G. Kehoe
Writer: Michael G. Kehoe
Producer: Malek Akkad
Stars: Sarah Davenport, Gabrielle Bourne, Bayley Corman, Alisha Wainwright, Andrew Divoff, Nina Siemaszko, Shae Smolik, David Naughton, Amanda Wyss, Darby Walker
A cursed Nazi artifact creates supernatural terror for four women and a little girl caught in a rural farmhouse.
What’s not to like about a horror film featuring cursed occult artifacts, an escaped Nazi officer living in secret as a rural American farmer, and a good old fashioned haunted house with a creepy creature lurking in cellar corners? A lot actually, when said film also includes hollow personalities, factory manufactured scary movie moments, and a chaotic conclusion that essentially surrenders on neatly tying everything together.
After a fairly engaging first act that spends nearly one-third of the runtime on a flashback, “The Hatred” loses its way during a second stretch that is slow to reset exposition for its present day timeline. Attractive actresses and capable camerawork maintain surface appeal while narrative momentum pauses. Then a sudden sprint to end credits leaves an impression that “The Hatred” would willingly settle for “meh” when a minor bump in effort might have yielded more.
Samuel’s war criminal past catches up to him somewhat when a mysterious package arrives at his upstate farm in 1968. Inside the box is a cross-shaped amulet, stolen from a Templar tomb when the Nazis pillaged France, now presented as a token of the fuehrer’s appreciation for advancing the Third Reich’s cause. Samuel knows enough to hide the cross in a cellar wall. But the artifact’s emanating evil nevertheless leads to his daughter Alice’s death, as well as Samuel’s macabre murder.
Fifty years later, a new family moves into Samuel’s former farmhouse. Boxes are barely unpacked when the parents are called away, leaving their young daughter Irene to be babysat by longtime friend Regan. Regan makes a getaway weekend out of the country trip by inviting three close college friends along. These women have names, though they could be referred to as the blonde, the brunette, and the black girl for as much as their individuality matters to the plot. “The Hatred’s” main twist on stereotypical characterizations comes from making the brunette the ditz while the blonde is a multilingual expert on cultural history, a background which coincidentally comes in handy when she is called on to translate German and identify artifacts.
Regan has a secondary beat about making a permanent move out of the city, which upsets the homestead where she and her sister are put upon to care for their dying grandmother. As near as I can surmise, this thread’s minimal value is maybe to motivate Regan’s fear of losing a loved one, as fear and hatred feed the amulet. Should that be the case, I still can’t explain why the camera cuts to grandmother writhing in a hospice bed while her doctor comments on the old woman’s condition.
Chalk this up as one of several side story seeds never seeing sunlight or water. Irene’s dad’s career as an ethno-archaeologist that had him specifically buying Samuel’s home in the first place? The final fate of Alice’s mother, last seen walking away following Samuel’s demise? “The Hatred” starts strong with intriguing hooks, then finishes weakly by refocusing on routine spooks that are cinematic in their simplicity, yet empty of supernatural substance.
No one whose name isn’t already on a map will earn a marker from this movie. Of those who are known names, their inclusions are irrelevant. David Naughton of “An American Werewolf in London” literally phones in the limpest cameo of his career. If “A Nightmare on Elm Street’s” Amanda Wyss had more than one line as his wife, I missed it.
What’s left to say about “The Hatred?” Not much. It’s a marginal movie whose production value hits for par as far as boilerplate horror goes. From the solo heroine talking out loud so even a dim audience can follow along to the cliché of watching “Night of the Living Dead” on TV, everything else on offer slices into rote rough.
The upside to “The Hatred’s” gear getting stuck in a single position down the home stretch is at least a manageable speed is maintained. The downside is that the straightforward speed races right past every opportunity for originality that might add an energetic edge.
Review Score: 50