Written by: Matt Patti | December 9th, 2021
Hurt (Sonny Mallhi, 2021) 2 out of 4 stars.
There are many films out there with an original concept that fail to deliver. Through a cleverly crafted logline, these films spark a viewer’s interest and make them think that they’ll be getting something new and different, only to offer just more of the same. Director Sonny Mallhi’s Hurt is one of these films, advertising that it will focus on a returning soldier who goes to a haunted hayride with his wife, after which things “take a dark turn.” Unfortunately, though, the film is filled with more clichés and conventional horror elements than you’d imagine, and the fresh idea quickly takes a “dark turn” into mediocrity.
The film begins with Rose (Emily Van Raay) watching a horror film, home alone. She goes to her job at a convenience store and is surprised when her husband Tommy (Andrew Creer, Netflix’s You series) appears in the store, returning home from war. The two have friends over for Halloween and Rose begins to realize that Tommy is very different now from the man she once knew. Suffering from PTSD, Tommy is affected by many different sounds and external stimuli, from Rose clanking a knife to the overlapping voices surrounding him. Although Rose is concerned, Tommy convinces her that he’ll be alright and they head out to their favorite haunted attraction: the aforementioned hayride. While there, Tommy struggles to keep his composure with all of the effects, loud noises, and large crowds. However, Rose and Tommy end up facing a steeper threat than they could have foreseen.
The logline was enough to entice me, thinking about the possibilities of a war veteran with PTSD visiting a haunted hayride and how poorly that could go, along with the madness and mayhem that could take place there in the face of actual danger. Unfortunately, the film rarely focuses on either plot point. In the first act, Tommy’s PTSD is explored very well and the audience actually gets to experience what PTSD might feel like as we get a point of view from his perspective. However, after that first act, this is very seldom explored. The haunted-hayride attraction is also a very small part of the film and our characters spend little time there before the main meat of the film is served.
Outside of my own expectations that were not met, the film functions simply as a run-of-the-mill slasher flick. The cinematography, editing, and set design are exceptional but the film is hollow when it comes to personality. All of the characters are quite bland and Rose and Tommy have little chemistry, though it’s understandable because of his condition. Still, there’s nothing that makes anyone stand out. The performances are all decent but none are noteworthy. In addition, the death scenes in the film are all very basic and uninspiring and a large twist in the film is revealed far too early. Finally, the conclusion is very predictable and not executed to the fullest extent that it could be.
Overall, Hurt is just another generic horror film when it could be so much more. The setup and first act are well-executed, but the rest is not. The performances are fine and the technical elements are sharp, but the plot is so dry and dreary that the film is negatively impacted. If a bit more effort were put into characterization and there were more of an attempt to fulfill the promise of the premise, then I think those would have gone a long way towards making a quality film. Unfortunately, though, Hurt ends up hurting its viewer by taking a familiar road and not fully embracing the potential of its concept.