"Hurt" feature film review
by Andrew Buckner
Hurt (2021), the third feature-length genre outing from director Sonny Mallhi, is a superbly crafted example of the enduring effectiveness of the classic horror tradition. The 91-minute picture, co-written by Mallhi and Solomon Gray, frequently utilizes extended bouts of all-too-quiet moments to create an underlying intensity that fiercely radiates throughout the project. The minimal gore, which is largely unseen until the well-done final twenty minutes, creepy and hauntingly beautiful masks adorned in the excursion, and rapid, credible explosions of shadowy violence are much in line with the continued success of the previously addressed formula.
What is just as dominant in this arena is that the film remembers the antiquated wisdom showcased in such timeless masterpieces as Halloween (1978) from director John Carpenter and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) from director Tobe Hooper. This is that, in antagonistic terms, enigmatic and underexplained motives and backstories are one of the most captivating and chilling cinematic tactics. This is one of the many narrative departments where Hurt, which concerns a married couple in New Caney, Texas who are followed home by genuine evil after visiting a beloved Halloween attraction, soars.
Another related, and similarly triumphant, angle is found in the patiently paced and unconventional fashion in which the plot unfolds. The familiarity of some of these elements makes what is ultimately revealed by these clever storytelling puzzle pieces obvious on occasion. Regardless, this touch is detrimental in illustrating a viewer understanding of the accruing terror and confusion the heroine of the venture, Rose (in a knockout performance from Emily Van Raay that is fueled by ample doses believability and vulnerability), is undergoing throughout the exercise. The effort also does a fine job of balancing a gradually evolving sense of menace in the first half hour. This is while simultaneously developing the leads in an organic and satisfying manner.
Reportedly based on true events, the account stumbles in its opening minute with a biblical passage segment hindered by an unimpressive voiceover. From herein, the endeavor quickly finds its footing. Most notably, the composition constantly dazzles as a demonstration of ominous tone. This atmosphere is also heightened and complimented by the grimly gorgeous cinematography from Jorel Odell. The same can be said of the music from Cj Johnson and Tom Schraeder. The special effects from Ben Belanger and Mathieu Bissonnette-Bigras and editing from Jordan Jensen and Zachary Weintraub are equally proficient. The costume design, make-up, sound, and camera work are also sharp.
The latest from Mallhi is also significant in its wisely chosen portrayals. Andrew Creer is excellent as Tommy. Bradley Hamilton is outstanding as Mark. Stephanie Moran and Michelle Treacy are remarkable as Lily and Dana respectively. Natalie Olivia Clarke is also enjoyable as Millie.
Hurt is a skillful, entertaining, no-nonsense slasher saga. It uses its farm and Ottawa, Ontario, Canada recorded hayride locations to grand consequence. The themes and central figures have their routine qualities. Nevertheless, such faults are overpowered by the deft dialogue, admirable delivery, and sheer bravura of the enactments from which they stem.
Ultimately, Mallhi has erected a subtle, smart, grounded, and technically stalwart undertaking. The movie may not prove as memorable as the ingredients from which it is manufactured. Still, it is a worthwhile and recommended celluloid selection cinephiles will assuredly savor.
Rating: **** out of *****.