Hate crimes have been on the rise in today’s world. Sexual orientation hate crimes are the third most frequent hate crime in the United States, according to the FBI. Director Steven Esteb and writer Jonah Tapper’s latest drama looks at the effects that a hate crime has on the victim, the perpetrator and their families. Hate Crime takes place after a young gay man is murdered and the challenges two sets of parents face thanks to the consequences of repression and toxic masculinity. The film stars John Schneider, Laura Cayouette, Amy Redford, Jordan Salloum, and Kevin Bernhardt.
Serious Subject Matter
Hate Crime is a well intentioned film because it covers a serious subject matter that has been on the rise for three consecutive years. Whenever films offer social commentary by having something to say about toxic masculinity, it’s interesting to interpret the director’s message. Hate Crime tackles sexual repression and how closeted homosexual men are dangerous because they cannot accept who they truly are.
Raymond Brown (Jordan Salloum), a closeted gay man, is sentenced to execution after murdering his boyfriend Kevin (Chasen Joseph Schneider), and on the night of his execution he tries to make amends with Kevin’s family.
In theory, the film has a great premise that should allow for moments of drama to clash with real world ideas as some sort of insight. There are moments where the film does this well, like when Tom Brown (Kevin Barnhardt), Raymond’s father, has to come to terms with himself after realizing he has raised a gay son and a murderer. Many parents have a hard time adjusting when finding out their child is homosexual and the film does a good job at capturing the strain this puts on the relationship between Raymond’s parents.
Raymond’s mother, Ginny Brown (Amy Redford), is taking the situation hard, but she hasn’t had thoughts of suicide like her husband. Her mothering nature is present and the film does a good job at portraying that side of her. The Browns are distraught because of their son’s actions, but the victim’s family are having a harder time.
John (John Schneider) and Marie Demarco (Laura Cayouette) are still grieving for the death of their son Kevin. Before Raymond is executed, he makes amends with John and tells him that he loved his son. This is what finally gives John some closure.
If you’re into slow movies then Hate Crime might be the right movie for you, but the snail’s pace of the film makes it hard to sit through. In the first 50 minutes of the film nothing happens. Hate Crime opens with Raymond killing Kevin; the next 50 minutes are characters who are just talking without any memorable dialogue. On top of that the movie lacks personality and it feels stiff. John Schneider and Laura Cayouette had solid chemistry whenever they were on-screen together, but everyone else felt dead inside.
Visually, the shot compositions are as bland as the script. The cinematography feels almost amateurish. There was a punch thrown early on and the sound effect’s dubbing is off which couldn’t be more distracting to watch.
Hate Crime is a forgettable film. The film’s execution isn’t on par with the gravity of the issue the film tries to tackle. Nothing of note happens for most of the movie and some of the acting is melodramatic to the point where it felt like there was a lack of direction. John Schneider and Laura Cayouette were a great pairing and did their part to bring some legitimacy to the script. Kevin Bernhardt and Amy Redford just didn’t do it for me. The pair lacked the chemistry of their counterparts, which made most of their scenes come off as trying too hard. Writing wise, the dialogue could’ve been stronger and the storytelling elements could’ve been sequenced differently to at least attempt to make the film feel fresh. Based on such a serious subject, Hate Crime untimely fails due to its botched execution.
[All Mames Wey]
Hate Crime was released onto digital platforms (Amazon, InDemand, DIRECTV, FlixFling, FANDANGO, Hoopla, Vimeo on Demand, Vudu, AT&T, and Sling/Dish) on September 24, 2019.
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