Thursday, July 26, 2018

Hurt (2018) Fantasia 2018

ADDENDUM: I have been informed that the version of the film that this review is based on is not the finished film. The press office of  Fantasia has told me that there are differences between the screener and the finished version that World Premiered at the festival. I am supposed to be getting access to the finished version at which time I will rewatch the film and make changes based upon the second viewing. For the moment I am leaving the review up as a kind of place marker.

I know HURT world premiered at Fantasia, however it has the feel of a horror film that more typically plays at the Tribeca Film Festival, namely one that is much more concerned with being something other than just a horror film. While this occasionally results in a film that is genuinely scary, or if not scary really good for other reasons (the Arnold Schwarzenegger film MAGGIE is the first thing that springs to mind), more often than not it results in a film that gets points for trying but which ultimately fails to be much of anything. This latter fate is what happens to HURT, a film that tries hard to be something and ends up being kind of forgettable.

What is kind of sad about HURT is it has some great stuff in it. For example it opens with a sequence that plays as if it were a nostalgic slasher film. While not completely scary, it does generate a strong sense of style that makes you want to keep watching. Once the sequence is done the film kind of flounders

The film follows Rose as she goes through the paces on Halloween. She is sitting on a stoop with a mask on and fake scars scaring kids. Her husband is home from military service. They end up going to the local spook house attraction and... things happen...

...though not what you expect because this isn't that sort of movie...except when it becomes that sort of movie.

I suspect HURT is going to have a number of fans who love that the film is trying to be a human drama  beyond the chills, however for me the film doesn't really work. Part of the problem is that by using the typical horror trappings our expectations are never really met. While I love films that don't do what we expect, they tend to modulate the balance of old framework (horror film) and new trappings (domestic drama) to create something that seems new even if it isn't. HURT despite having a great cast, a great sense of place, some interesting ideas, never gets the balance right. Everything seems off.

To be honest my interest waned and my attention drifted.

While I didn't really care for the film, the film will have its champions, sadly I'm just not going to be one of them.

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