Earlier this year, online video gaming service Steam Greenlight released Hatred, an isometric third-person shooter about a violent sociopath whose only goal is to massacre as many innocent people before being killed by the authorities. Garnering immediate controversy for its content and gameplay—the only method of regaining health is executing injured civilians begging for their lives—the buzz surrounding Hatred quickly died off when critics and players discovered that it used shock value to mask its many, many technical shortcomings. The game’s legacy can be stated thus: no amount of blood and gore can create staying power if attached to a mediocre product. I mention Hatred because I have recently watched Adam Egypt Mortimer’s Some Kind of Hate. And for the life of me, this film feels like somebody tried to adapt Hatred into a slasher movie.
The protagonist, Lincoln Taggert (Ronen Rubinstein), looks like the main character from Hatred from his high school days: long, greasy hair tumbles down his face to cover his deathly-pale skin, giving him an appearance of Jack White if he went six months without a haircut. Violent bullies ripped straight from Stephen King novels make up the entire populace of Lincoln’s world. Even by 1980s teen movie standards, the bullying depicted in Some Kind of Hate is downright preposterous. Consider this choice bit of dialogue from the first scene where a bully torments him at school:
Lincoln: “What did I ever do to you?”
Bully: “You came to this school and acted like a f—king f-g, you little freak!”
He then knocks over Lincoln’s lunch tray, pushes him down into a puddle of milk, and taunts, “You crying over spilt milk?!”
When Lincoln naturally responds by stabbing his attacker in the face with a fork, the principal makes the wise decision of sending him, NOT the bullies who literally recorded the assault with their iPhones, to a hippie New Age reform school where troubled teens are encouraged to practice yoga on hilltops. “Do not dwell on the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate among the present moment,” the head counselor intones. Practically the same day he arrives, a new pack of psychopaths start picking on him, forcing him to flee to a building where he curls up in a ball and screeches, “I wish they were all dead!”
And so begins a shockingly miscalculated slasher film about the ghost of Moira (Sierra McCormick), a murdered young woman who kills the tormentors of whoever “bonds” with her. A genuinely interesting modus operandi wherein her victims experience the same wounds she inflicts upon herself is wasted with slapdash storytelling and an inability to keep the film’s lore straight. It’s revealed that the people who murdered Moira still work at the camp. So why doesn’t she just kill them and leave everybody else alone? Moira stages her killings as suicides via wrist-slitting, but then ruins it by carving “bully” into their arms. Why does Moira need people to “bond” with when it’s shown that she can appear and attack people even when she hasn’t bonded with anybody? And why in the HELL is the camp allowed to stay open when it’s hinted that it has a long and storied history of students gruesomely killing themselves?
The answer to these questions is simple: they don’t matter because Some Kind of Hate is first and foremost a misanthropic revenge fantasy. The brutal comeuppances visited upon the film’s characters are designed to be cathartic: a screech of defiance against a cruel world intent upon your destruction. But like the video game Hatred, the graphic content tries to distract from shoddy craftsmanship. Entire scenes filmed in dark rooms are completely unwatchable. Lines of dialogue are so badly mumbled or whimpered that they’re unintelligible. The special effects are paltry, the characters either unlikable or forgettable, and there isn’t a scary moment in the entire film. But I think the filmmakers knew that: in lieu of actually being frightening, it tries to be intense and disturbing. But it fails miserably at all three.