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The Hatred (2017)

Anchor Bay
DVD Released: 9/12/2017

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/6/2017

What do 2002's Eight Legged Freaks and 2016's Lights Out have in common? Both were based on short films which were expanded to feature length. What's the difference between them? Eight Legged Freaks (which was based on the short "Larger Than Life") showed that a small idea can lose steam when it is expanded into a huge creature-feature. Meanwhile, Lights Out took a very simple short, enhanced the backstory and delivered a complete and satisfying feature. So, what have we learned here? There's no guarantee that a good short film will hatch a good feature-length movie. On which side does The Hatred fall?

The Hatred opens in 1968, where we see a family tending to their orchard. Father Samuel, who is a former Nazi officer, receives an ancient relic in the mail (?!) which he conceals in the wall. This artifact apparently creates violent feelings in those within the vicinity, as Samuel soon kills his daughter, Alice (Darby Walker), and he, in turn, is killed by his wife, Miriam (Nina Siemaszko). The story then jumps ahead to the present, where Regan (Sarah Davenport) arrives at the orchard to babysit her niece, Irene (Shae Smolik). Accompanied by her friends, Layan (Gabrielle Bourne), Samantha (Bayley Corman), and Betaine (Alisha Wainwright), Regan tries to comfort the girl, who is spending her first night in the house while her parents are away. (?!) As night falls, strange things begin to happen around the house, and it becomes apparent that something sinister is afoot.

The Hatred is based upon Writer/Director Michael G. Kehoe's 2015 short "Hush", which involves a young woman discovering that the girl sleeping upstairs may not be human. This brief feature is effective and it practically appears in full in the trailer for The Hatred. Apparently, producer Malek Akkad (son of Moustapha Akkad) approached Kehoe about expanding the short into a feature. Based on what we've seen in the past, they had a 50/50 chance of developing something successful. They failed.

I honestly don't know if Kehoe had ever given any thought into expanding "Hush", but my gut tells me that he didn't, as The Hatred is simultaneously all over the place and incredibly vague. The broad strokes of the story and the lack of true detail are nearly maddening. The whole thing with the Nazi cross and its power are never explained. The relationship between Regan and Irene is difficult to grasp at first, as is the fact that Irene is supposedly new to the house, and yet knows things about it. (Is that a supernatural thing?) It's a very long time until the supernatural events begin and when they do, they aren't clear. I only saw a female ghost, but at one point, Regan says something which implies that she is seeing Samuel.

The wafer-thin story is given no support by the characters here. The prologue introduces us to three people, 66% of which are dead before we really get to know them. We are then presented with the four college girls, all of whom are incredibly vapid and only seem concerned with wine and boys. They stop off for wine on the way to the house, and then, once they arrive, the winefest continues. If I'm not mistaken, it's the homeowners wine which they are drinking. This is just the tip of the iceberg of how brazen this group is, as they go through all of the rooms of the house, even the one which is clearly closed off. Samantha is especially nosey, as she can't seem to mind her own business. Things get even weirder this quartet of seemingly airheaded morons, are all suddenly geniuses who are experts in history and foreign language.

Here we have yet another example of what will surely be buyer's remorse for many viewers. The trailer for The Hatred shows some much promise, as, again, it features the creative and shocking moment from "Hush". But, this scene actually appears in the third act of the movie, so those of us who have seen the trailer must sit through an hour of shenanigans waiting for this moment. If the movie could have presented us with at least one other scene as good as "Hush"...well, it still wouldn't have been good, but at least it would have had two good scenes. What we get instead is a complete mess which mixes Nazis and the occult in an awful way.

The Hatred must have been funded by the wine council on DVD courtesy of Anchor Bay. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer has been enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is OK, but the picture gets somewhat soft at times, and shows an average depth. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The latter half of the film, when the horror finally shows up, offers some definite surround and stereo effects. The subwoofer also joins the party, emphasizing the shock moments.

The Hatred Blu-ray Disc contains just two extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Producer Malek Akkad and Writer/Director Michael G. Kehoe. "The Hatred Behind the Scenes" (12 minutes) lets us know that the intriguing scene from the trailer was actually taken from a short film called "Hush" made by Kehoe. It was then decided that a feature film should be built around this short. Why? From there, we get interviews with the cast and filmmakers and some on-set footage.

Review Copyright 2017 by Mike Long