I Hate You Movie Review
Written by Steve Pattee
DVD released by Black Cloud Pictures
Directed by Nick Oddo
Written by Nick Oddo and Marvin W. Schwartz
2004, Region 0 (NTSC), 83 minutes, Not rated
Marvin W. Schwartz as Norman
Norman is an aging, second-rate comic. He wants to leave his mark on the world, but he knows he’s not a good enough comedian to be remembered for his stand-up routine.
He also knows serial killers get remembered forever.
So Norman does something that will get him the attention he so desires.
He becomes a killing machine.
And, to guarantee his infamy, he starts writing a book of his exploits—leading to a very humorous exchange between him and his writing teacher.
“I know you are still working on this story, but in your mind, at the end of this story, does Melvin get caught?”
“I really haven’t got there yet. I just don’t know.”
Pretty soon, killing and serial killers encompass Norman’s life to the point where he is either killing, thinking about killing or talking about killing.
So, does Melvin get caught?
If nothing else, I Hate You is a statement on our society. During one of his stand-up routines, Norman says, “There are more books written on Jack the Ripper than there are of all of the United States presidents combined.” I don’t know if that is true or not, but it would not surprise me if it were. Ours is a violent society and if you want to be famous, and don’t have any skills, an easy way is to kill as many people as you can before you either die or get caught. Easy, of course, being relative as, thankfully, not everyone can just go out on a Sunday afternoon and go on a killing spree.
But, fortunately, there’s more to this movie than just the statement on society.
One of the “mores” is Marvin Schwartz. Choosing Schwartz to portray Norman was a great move because he just looks like a kindly older man. With his grandfatherly appearance, he is twice as creepy when he is stabbing or bludgeoning his latest victim.
Schwartz also does a great job alternating between normal, well-adjusted Norman (albeit with a penchant for talking about serial killers) and insane, maniacal Norman — with a penchant for killing people, then searching the newspaper to read about his work.
He nails the role because, at times, he is genuinely creepy — particularly when he’s smiling after a kill, bowing to an invisible audience. And, as the movie progresses, Norman’s stand-up gets darker and Schwartz’s delivery of it, at times, made me feel uncomfortable. I wanted him to just get off the stage because, while it was hard to watch, I couldn’t not watch. I had to see where the hell he was going with his shtick. And that’s a good thing.
The other strength of Hate is the script, written by Nick Oddo and Schwartz. It’s smart, fun and not necessarily predictable. The descent of Norman’s stand-up into darkness is subtle. Sure, at the beginning, Norman does talk about death in his show, but as the movie goes on, his routine gets darker and darker. He’s still talking about death, but it is no longer humorous, just uncomfortable. In addition, as Norman goes crazier, the conversations he has with others starts taking some interesting turns. There are quite a few “WTF?” moments in the movie. And, again, that’s a good thing.
However, Hate also has some flaws.
The supporting cast is standard no-budget fare, with no one in particular standing out — with the exception of Bill Santiago (who plays another comedian who works at the same place Norman does).
But Santiago isn’t going to be remembered for his acting ability. He’s going to be remembered as that guy who looked at the camera every time it was on him. At first, I thought he was doing it intentionally, because the first couple of times he did it, he was on stage doing his routine — but no, this was not intentional. For one, neither Schwartz nor another comic even glance at the camera during their routines. And, secondly, Santiago did it a couple times when his character was off stage, outside sitting on a stoop having a conversation with Norman.
This may seem small, but things like this scream “no budget.” And, even if something has no budget, it doesn’t have to live up to the stereotypes of a no-budget feature. With Hate being a black-and-white film, coupled with Santiago’s Cindy Brady-like camera watching, it dances dangerously close to amateur night.
Fortunately, Schwartz’s strong performance and the Hate’s solid writing makes this problem almost insignificant.
This is not a film for all horror fans — it lacks the gore so many crave. But it is smartly written and well acted, making it an enjoyable watch.
Video and Audio:
Video and audio will not be graded, as this is a screener.
While my review DVD is a screener, I’ve been told the special features are the same as on the final release. It includes deleted scenes, an alternate ending, director Nick Oddo’s award winning short “Times Square” and a photo gallery.
The deleted scenes are worth watching, if only for the scene in which Schwartz breaks out in song. Hilarious.
The alternate ending is interesting, as it is completely opposite from the film’s used ending.
“Times Square” a short documentary about, well, Times Square and its changes over the years. Running at just under 12 minutes, I wish it were longer as it seems there could be so much more to it.
I wish a commentary by Oddo and Schwartz had been included.
I Hate You is not a perfect movie; it does have its flaws. But it also shows a lot of promise from the up-and-coming Oddo. It’s smart, it’s darkly humorous and it has that special way, at times, of making you feel strangely uncomfortable. Seeing this pulled off with a limited budget and resources makes me eagerly await Oddo’s next offering.
(Equipment includes a Mitsubishi WS-48613 48” HDTV, Phillips DVP642 DVD player and Onkyo HTS-770 Home Theater System and, in some cases, a Sony 27” WEGA TV and a Cyberhome CH-DVD300 DVD player.)