I didn’t find the Blumhouse-produced Hurt to be an entertaining film–not by any stretch of the imagination. But it certainly helps to understand writer/director Sonny Mallhi’s style before going in. Mallhi is the creative mind behind films like Anguish and Family Blood while also serving as producer on movies like The Strangers and A24’s The Monster. All that to say, the man prefers a slow build to his Horror. He likes to let the moment do the talking–and that’s okay. The problem is that Hurt isn’t simply a slow film. In fact, it teeters on being non-existent for an hour and ten minutes before the grand finale fizzles out like a wet and disappointing Black Cat firework.
Viewers follow Rose; a young woman recently reunited with her veteran boyfriend, Tommy. Best I can tell, they live a relatively quiet life and always have. But something has changed inside of Tommy since returning from war. He can’t bear to witness others celebrate the violence of Halloween–not after everything he’s seen–and says the only real way to understand death is to experience it for yourself. After Rose and Tommy have an argument, Tommy vanishes and a killing spree ensues. Kinda.
Truth be told, there’s relatively no violence, or even an attempt to unsettle the audience, until well over an hour into the film. Hell, even the plot summary I typed above is infinitely clearer than the movie itself. You get–not one–but two false starts before settling into the actual narrative roughly 20 minutes in. From there, you bounce between admittedly attractive shots of Rose performing mundane actions such as: sitting on a bed, sitting at a table, sitting in a car, laying on a bed, and staring at a phone while she waits for Tommy to return. It isn’t exactly enthralling.
But let’s be honest here–we’ve all sat through some pretty disappointing films to get to an ultimately satisfying and gnarly ending, right? Alas–Hurt has no such conclusion. While the pace reaches a speed slightly above breathing in its final act, it’s far too little and far too late. The true tragedy is that there’s a terrifying film inside of this begging to be unleashed. The sound design and cinematography occasionally create a mood of dread and unease that is genuinely impressive. Unfortunately, that build ends in heartbreak every time, and the end result is an excruciatingly uneventful film that simply refuses to do… anything.
Hurt made its world premiere at the 2018 Fantasia International Film Festival.
Fantasia 2018: ‘Hurt’ Delivers An Excruciatingly Uneventful Slasher [Review]