Every once in a while you’ll get a film that tries a new twist on an old formula. Some are successful, some aren’t, and some are a mixture of both. Adam Egypt Mortimer’s Some Kind of Hate, coming soon on DVD and Blu-ray, falls into the third category, but that doesn’t mean it should be discounted.
Ronen Rubinstein (Orange is the New Black, It Felt Like Love) stars as Lincoln, a boy who is abused at home and bullied at school. Fed up with the bullying, he retaliates by stabbing his tormentor in the face with a fork. In a move that mirrors real-world ignorance and avoidance in the face of ongoing bullying, Lincoln, not his tormentor, is sent to Mind’s Eye Academy. It’s a questionable establishment out in the middle of the desert, and the flakey staff seems painfully ill-equipped to deal with the troubled youths that have been gathered there.
Lincoln is immediately the target of more bullies, but he does manage to make a sort-of-friend and gain a sort-of-girlfriend. However, Lincoln’s bullying intensifies and after he is attacked in the showers he makes the Buffy-level mistake of wishing out loud that his bullies were dead. Unfortunately for him, Moira, the crazed ghost of a girl who was bullied and died at the camp years ago, hears his wish and begins to grant it.
Thus Some Kind of Hate descends into a violent storm that is one part ghost story, one part slasher flick, and one part revenge porn that leaves horror fans with enough gore to cringe over. The manner in which the revenge is enacted, however, is unusual. The film speaks about cutting in a frank manner, as more than one of the characters do it. Moira did it during life, and it becomes her main choice of weapon after death. She uses razors to hurt herself and thus hurts her victims, so audiences get double the violence every time a new character is victimized. Naturally, this makes stopping her even more of a challenge.
In another twist on the normal revenge story, we realize that despite stabbing someone in the face, Lincoln really is a decent human being. Usually in revenge stories we like to see bullies get what they deserve, and in a movie the punishments are often worse than the crime. This is different in the real world, where the punishment should fit the crime, and it’s the real world that Some Kind of Hate tries to emulate.
Lincoln’s bullies deserve a major ass-kicking, true. But they don’t deserve to die in the horrible ways Moira wants. Lincoln knows this and immediately tries to save the bullies’ lives. He even tries to save the lives of the people who actually deserve Moira’s brand of revenge. This was quite refreshing in a genre where what the audience typically gets as much bloodshed as possible.
Another pleasant surprise was even though the film does contain your typical creativity-challenged bullies, there are other characters who used to be bullies but have reformed. Like real children, they were too selfish to realize how harmful their actions actually were, and didn’t realize the consequences until it was too late. Bullies are usually portrayed in one of two ways: the one-dimensional characters previously mentioned, or the bullies whose lives are so awful that the audience immediately becomes sympathetic with them. It is rare to see reformed bullies, people who know what they did was horrible, know they were horrible people for doing it, and who are actively trying to make up for what they did.
Unfortunately, the film does not always follow through on its good ideas. Moira is the opposite side of the coin to Lincoln, driven crazy with revenge by her bullying. Where Lincoln is played with sincerity and more depth than expected in a horror movie male, Moira screams. A lot. Her rage is fiery, but it’s hard to have any sympathy for her even when it is revealed how she died. A lot of time is also spent on Lincoln’s sort-of-girlfriend Kaitlin. Their relationship is expected but baffling, and I spent more time wondering about the lives of some of the side characters than I did about her. And of these side characters, none of them were too smart when dealing with a ghost.
Although Some Kind of Hate has a lot of good ideas, they are not always fleshed out as much as one would hope. But this is a horror film and not a drama, so that is neither surprising nor unexpected. It certainly lives up to its slasher film subgenre expectations, so any fans of Michael Myers or Jason Vorhees should enjoy it.
Some Kind of Hate comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray Nov. 3, 2015.