“A Crime Drama with A Rippling Effect”
By: Adam Cook
This is another special review where I had the opportunity to view a movie that is being released on Video on Demand tomorrow. I want to once again thank the great people of TriCoast Entertainment for sending me this film to watch and give my take on it. The previous film I reviewed for them was a psychological horror film called Between The Darkness. The film that I’ve finished watching moments ago is a Drama that is inspired by a true event. The movie is called Hate Crime.
Hate Crime tells the story of a teenage boy named Raymond Brown (Jordan Salloum) who is arrested and awaiting trial for the murder of Kevin Demarco (Chasen Joseph Schneider). Kevin is openly gay which makes what Raymond did a hate crime. The film focuses on the parents of both Raymond and Kevin as they deal with the aftermath of the tragedy (John Schneider/Laura Cayouette as John and Marie Demarco and Kevin Bernhardt/Amy Redford as Tom and Ginny Brown). Both of them are trying to figure out how did this happen and deal with the harassment from detractors on both sides of the issue.
Written by first time screenwriter Jonah Tapper and directed by Steven Esteb, Hate Crime is inspired by the tragic death of Matthew Shepard. For those who may be too young to remember, Matthew Shepard was a gay American college student from Wyoming who was beaten and tortured to death by two men because of his sexual preference. Matthew’s death would lead to state and federal legislation of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act which added the assaulting or death of a person who is LGBTQI in the category of a hate crime.
The film presents a non linear story about how such a crime has an effect on everyone that is associated with it. In this case, Esteb focuses on how the parents are dealing with this life altering tragedy. The pacing is slow as they all are trying to grasp with what has happened. As the movie progresses so does the emotions. Bernhardt masks his anger and frustration by performing his daily routine trying not to think about what has happened while his wife (Redford) breaks down and ultimately blames him for not being around to talk to their son and deal with the issues that is troubling him. Meanwhile, Schneider and Cayouette are a lost for words and grieve for their son, however Schneider seeks answers from Raymond as to why he killed their son. The reason is revealed around the mid way point which makes perfect sense.
As for the central character of Raymond, Salloum gives a remorseful performance. He quickly realizes the error in judgement as he is confined in his cell and answering questions from John Schneider in order to shed light on what happened and perhaps ask for mercy.
While the location of the film is not revealed, the majority of the film is shot on a farm surrounded by cornfields with a few shots of Raymond in prison and a few flashback shots. The rural setting is once again influenced by the Shepard tragedy since that took place in Wyoming. Most of the scenes are nighttime which gives the film the appropriate tone. Speaking of tone, Hate Crime is not a drama with brutality as other films of this subject matter are. The violence is limited to the opening scene.
I appreciate the subject matter of Hate Crime, but this could’ve been fleshed out more. It felt hollow and needed to be filled with more content. It feels like a movie that was released twenty years ago rather than today. With today’s polarizing society, the filmmakers could’ve shown that hostility on both sides of the issue.
Hate Crime won’t be remembered as an important drama movie, but rather a reminder of how ones actions can lead to life altering situations for them and their loved ones.
Hate Crime will be released on Tuesday, September 24th and will be available on Video on Demand and the following digital streaming platforms (Amazon, InDemand, DIRECTV, FlixFling, FANDANGO, Hoopla, Vimeo on Demand, Vudu, AT&T and Sling/Dish)
*Photos courtesy of TriCoast Entertainment. All rights reserved.