The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Some Kind of Hate

Horror movies are often at their best when they use the genre to touch on a topical issue or socially relevant theme. Some Kind of Hate takes bullying as its subject, and for a time, it appears that it's going to be something both scary and profound. Then it devolves into a series of bloody cliches. The good intentions are still present, they just recede into the background, which leads to frustration. This is one of those films where you sit there, almost trying to will yourself to like it more than you actually do.

Ronen Rubinstein (looking way too old to be a convincing adolescent) plays Lincoln Taggert, a goth-looking high school student who is repeatedly bullied by – you guessed it – a preppy jock. One day, he snaps, impulsively stabbing his tormentor with a fork. This act earns him a trip to Mind's Eye Academy, a youth correctional facility in the desert, run by New Age-y guru Jack Iverson (Michael Polish). Immediately after arriving, Lincoln is bullied by another resident, Willie (The Wire's Maestro Harrell). His girl crush, Kaitlin (Grace Phipps), encourages him to fight back, but that's not really Lincoln's style, despite what got him into Mind's Eye. Instead, following a particularly nasty run-in, he wishes that Willie and his buddies were dead. This is when Moira (Sierra McCormick) shows up. She's the ghost (or spirit, or whatever – it's never made clear) of a former resident who was also badly bullied. Moira is more than happy to fulfill Lincoln's wish.

Some Kind of Hate has two very intriguing ideas at its core. The first is that bullying victim Moira flips the tables. Her rage over having been ruthlessly picked on causes her to become a bully herself; the difference is that she's bullying bullies. The second idea is that Lincoln doesn't believe aggression should be resolved through more aggression. It strikes him as ineffective, as something that merely prolongs the problem rather than fixing it. These are both important concepts to consider in the examination of bullying, so for the film to address them marks it as a serious and ambitious work.

That said, the movie simply doesn't do enough with either of them. Moira's battered psychology is barely explored. It's never explained how she comes back, how she pulls off her violent acts, or, most importantly, how she feels about stepping into the role of tormenter, knowing how it feels to be on the other end of that equation. (It doesn't help that Sierra McCormick gives a wildly overwrought performance.) She is simply a generic revenge-minded character, hell-bent on making people pay for their sins. Lincoln tries to stop her, but his frame of mind, while examined slightly more, is a bit one-note. He doesn't believe in fighting back, which is fine. How does he feel about Moira's ironic transformation, though? Is a part of him secretly glad she's killing bullies? Given his supposed pacifism, how does he feel about the fact that his anger may have unintentionally summoned her? There aren't really any scenes where he reveals his philosophy in any meaningful detail. Further expansion of his viewpoint would have given Some Kind of Hate the sort of depth it's obviously aiming for.

What we're left with is an intermittently creepy, but disappointingly hollow, tale of vengeance in which Moira unleashes bloody, gory violence upon the other characters in fairly predictable fashion. Director/co-writer Adam Egypt Mortimer certainly stages the shock scenes effectively; they just don't have much real bite to them beyond the extremely graphic visuals. Some Kind of Hate paints itself into a corner with its finale. Once all the requisite characters are dead, what is there to do? The movie ends on a deeply unsatisfying note, followed by a mid-credit bonus scene that's a typical “we'll do a sequel if this one is successful” cliché.

Most of the performances are good, and the bullying scenes are carried out with appropriate emotional intensity. And while they don't amount to anything especially meaningful, the scenes of Moira killing people are cleverly conceived and executed. Adam Egypt Mortimer is definitely someone to watch. That he was willing to tackle such an important subject is respectable. He'll continue to grow as a filmmaker, and hopefully be able to invest future projects with the poignancy that Some Kind of Hate reaches for but never quite grasps.

( out of four)

Some Kind of Hate is unrated, but contains adult language, some sexual content, and graphic violence/gore. The running time is 1 hour and 22 minutes.

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