A horror story in which a bullied misfit finally snaps and fights back is certainly nothing new. You can find this theme in horror films as varied as Carrie, Willard, Evilspeak, Patrick, and Christine. But the new indie horror flick called Some Kind of Hate earns extra credit for taking this old and potentially tiresome plot device and turning it into something relatively novel. Not only that, but it attacks the issue of teenage bullying in a frank (sometimes ferocious) fashion, which means that Some Kind of Hate is not just a cool horror flick; it’s also a trenchant piece of social commentary that sends a pretty strong message: don’t be a bully, because you never know what your victim is capable of — or who their friends are.
Lincoln (Ronen Rubenstein) has been remanded to an isolated juvenile detention after defending himself from a typical school bully. The fact that he doesn’t even deserve the punishment is only the first of Lincoln’s big problems. Of course it turns out that the new-age-y detention center doesn’t offer much in the way of rules, organization, or protection; poor Lincoln has simply graduated from high school bullies to incarcerated bullies. After a few nasty altercations with some of the more intimidating inmates, Lincoln finds himself befriended by two women: one is a flesh and blood female who clearly wants to help the newcomer; the other is a horrific spirit who desperately wants revenge on not only her own tormentors — but also the ones who keep messing with Lincoln.
What seems like an overused premise is actually quite a bit more interesting: It’s actually the spirit of poor Moira (Sierra McCormick, in a wildly brave performance) that wreaks all the bloody havoc — but it may have been Lincoln’s rage that awakened the furious apparition in the first place. And she’s got plenty of victims to choose from. Aside from two unlikely allies (played by Grace Phipps and Spencer Breslin, both excellent) and a collection of oddly disinterested authority figures, just about everyone Lincoln deals with is an aggressor of some kind — and while he’s fed up with the non-stop bullying, Lincoln is still a decent guy. Sure, all the bullies are suddenly dropping dead due to mysterious “suicides,” but he’s not willing to play along with Moira’s bloodthirsty games. And she’s not too happy about this turn of events.
So while it’s cool that Some Kind of Hate subverts the “misfit strikes back” sub-genre impressively well and makes several stark, salient points about the dangers of being a psychological predator — the best thing about Some Kind of Hate is that it’s simply an intense, tough, and powerful horror story. On one hand we want to enjoy the nastiness as Moira wreaks unholy revenge on all of Lincoln’s tormentors, but the screenplay (by Brian DeLeeuw and director Adam Egypt Montimer) makes a simple but excellent point: that the cycle of violence can only end when one of the participants stops fighting and walks away — which is easier said than done, obviously. Especially when you’re dealing with an angry ghost who absolutely thrives on doling out punishment.
Some Kind of Hate is brutal, disturbing, and sometimes tragic, but it’s also a pointed, angry film that has a lot to say about the nature of “psychological predators” and their victims. Horror fans who are looking for a simple slasher flick/ghost story combination will certainly enjoy what Some Kind of Hate has to offer, but those who are open to something a little bit deeper will probably walk away impressed, as I most definitely did.
Screened via the Bruce Campbell Horror Film Festival.