It’s time once again to join our own dysfunctional family as we take a look at the After Dark Horror Fest entry The Hamiltons in this installment of Irreconcilable Differences!
Our date-night choice for tonight was The Hamiltons. Going into this movie all I knew was it was a horror film about a strange and dysfunctional family. Okay, big whoop, but I figured I would give it a go. Settling into the film I was worried a bit about dozing off. The beginning of the move was a nice little shocker: a woman releasing herself from bonds, finding her dead boyfriend, and attempting to help another person who she thinks is also locked up. Whatever it is behind door number one ends up not being the car prize, but an unseen thing that ultimately ends her feeble screen existence.
As we move into learning more about the family, the pace slows down quite a bit with little bits of everyday ho-hummery here and there. The tale is told through the eyes of the youngest son in the home. For a school project he is videotaping bits and pieces of his family’s life and we hear a lot of the melancholy teen angst in his camera shots. The characters were a little undeveloped, but the whole story had me captivated. Trying to figure out exactly what was going on and why these people were doing what it was they did – it all had me trying to think and figure out the intricate puzzle pieces they were shoving at me left and right.
We have the oldest brother who is simply trying to keep his family together with the tools of his father’s trade. We have the twins and their deviant behavior bringing in the sexy element. We have the younger brother simply trying to figure out where he fits in all of this, and then we have the elusive Lenny who is kept in the cellar. Add to this an over-enthusiastic social worker, and you could have the styling of a sitcom! With the beautiful imagery, camera work, and skillful direction, we have a lovely dark cloud of unease that lurks benevolently in the corner. The whole theme is “What darkness lurks in the heart of man.” They hit it by stating, “We live next door to you. Our children play with your children. We work at the stores you shop at.”
This movie was so beautifully crafted, I hated to see it end. I wanted to see the next chapter in these people’s lives. What comes out of the box? Where does it all go from here? They left me wanting more, but in a good sense. I wanted to stay a voyeur in these people’s lives just a bit longer.
5 Triple Dares out of 5
I could wax ecstatic on this one for many paragraphs, but I have to do so in a fashion as to not blow away the entire plot. Bear with me here as I try and give this to you spoiler-free.
As the Mrs. stated above, this flick was presented with little to no prior information aside from the fact it was part of the After Dark Horrorfest that hit select theatres last year. That said, the basic plot gleaned from the Internet was pretty basic and straightforward. A family of siblings with deceased parents struggles to survive under the leadership of oldest brother David. While working on a school video project, youngest brother Francis gives us a bird’s eye view of his somewhat dysfunctional family and slowly reveals the various quirks leading us to believe deeper waters are indeed choppy in the Hamilton family.
So there you have it. It seems fairly straightforward as you head into a film with little to no prior knowledge. When the film kicks off on a disturbing step with a disheveled and bruised Brittany Daniel escaping her bonds only to find her dead friends, it quickly becomes apparent that this family is possibly a bit more dysfunctional than most. As she proceeds to try and free an apparent fellow survivor, we are left in even more confusion and wonderment as we find something far darker than another abused babe behind the door.
With a direct opening such as this, the stage is set for an uncomfortable journey of family life and understanding, and that’s where the beauty lies in The Hamiltons. It’ll make you squirm in your seat.
Throughout the film, as bits and pieces of the troubled psyche of this family of five begin to reveal themselves, our discomfort begins to grow as well. The individual siblings all combine together to help add the squirminess and mystery of the story as well, and all are delivered quite well to suck us into this morass of WTF?
Family patriarch David (Samuel Child) shows us a nervous man and slightly awkward, fighting hard to keep control of their situation and left with nothing but his fathers knowledge to aid them. Older brother Wendell (Joseph McKellheer) is a hot-headed trouble maker often forcing the family into early departures and extra hardships. Sister Darlene (Mackenzie Firgens) hides an apparent dark side, rebelling against David as he tries to do what is right for his family. She plots her own mischief and mayhem and explores her budding sexuality. Francis (Cory Knauf) is a confused young boy on the verge of manhood, an outcast from society and his own family, fighting to figure out where he belongs.
Then there’s Lenny. Lenny is locked in the cellar. That’s all we really know about Lenny. These parts combine together to present a family with a dark and twisted side, and all turn in a terrific performance that will make your hair stand on end. These performances, and the leading and vague plot through the film, are what make this a great horror flick. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you much about the plot, but hopefully with this review and The First Lady’s above, you’ll get the idea that it is indeed something that you need to see.
Much like the hey day of Hammer Studios, The Hamiltons is a cerebral horror flick aimed at making you think and ultimately making those thoughts disturb you for a solid hour and a half. Sure, there’s some gore here, but nothing that’s going to make you toss your cookies. Adding to that, the gore is not gratuitous or over the top. It’s quite integral to our tale and serves a distinct purpose. The few glances of it help add to the mystery of this family, furthering your bewilderment along the way and your thoughts of “Man that family is messed up.” This one won’t make you jump, but it will make you talk about it for a good hour or two afterwards – and possibly make you throw a wary glance the next time you see that awkward, quiet family out mowing their yard on the weekend.
If you only see one of the After Dark flicks, make it this one. From the four or five we’ve seen up to this point, this is by far the most solid as far as horror flicks go. No cheap thrills, no cheap jumps, just gear turning drama that’ll make even this hardened genre junky shiver a bit.
5 family counselors out of 5Powered by Sidelines