HURT movie poster | ©2021 Gravitas Ventures

HURT movie poster | ©2021 Gravitas Ventures

Rating: Not Rated
Stars: Emily Van Raay, Andrew Creer, Michelle Treacy, Stephanie Moran, Bradley Hamilton, Adam Drodge
Writers: Solomon Gray & Sonny Mallhi
Director: Sonny Mallhi
Distributor: Gravitas Ventures
Release Date: December 9, 2021

HURT begins with a prayer for Biblical vengeance. This is followed by an onscreen statement that what we are about to see is inspired by true events: “In 2012, a teenage girl went camping with her sister and her mother … as usual, the teenage girl wanted nothing to do with her sister or her mother.” Things can’t get much truer than that.

But this sets us up for a whimsical tone that is thereafter lacking in HURT.

Another title informs us that we’re in New Edinburgh, Illinois. The teenage girl is off by herself in the fields and woods. But it turns out that this isn’t her story, and these events aren’t the “true” ones on which HURT is based. (It’s possible to do a Google search and see what may have, ultra-loosely, been the inspiration here.)

If this seems like something of a pattern, it is.

Rose (Emily Van Raay) is a horror fan who works at a small-town gas station. When her husband Bobby (Andrew Creer) returns home from military service, she’s delighted.

But there’s something clearly wrong with Tommy, who talks to himself and seems prone to violence. Rose’s sister Lily (Stephanie Moran) and Lily’s husband Mark (Bradley Hamilton) are concerned, though Rose herself is in denial.

Then Tommy suggests that he and Rose go to Hayride Park, a local Halloween haunt attraction. While most of the scares are clearly, playfully fake, one seems unnervingly authentic. At the time, Rose and the crowd think it’s just a well-executed gag.

Then Rose and Tommy are separated at the park, and …

It’s a little hard to know what to make of HURT. Director Sonny Mallhi, who wrote the screenplay with Solomon Gray, does create a cumulatively disturbing effect. He also is deft with jump scares, getting one from something as simple as an abruptly-moved bowl.

Mallhi also has a fondness for shots that hold on spaces and rooms for several beats after all characters have left the frame. At first, this increases the tension. Once it becomes a motif, these shots seem like they’re meant to make a statement, but what’s being said is unclear.

HURT raises a lot of questions that are never answered. It also gives us a character, who should know better, who keeps picking up blades and putting them down again. This is more exasperating than frightening.

Inasmuch as HURT says anything, it’s one of those horror movies that shakes a finger at its audience. It’s hard to discuss how HURT does this without getting spoilery, but it’s too diffuse to back up its message. However, HURT does achieve a genuine nightmarish quality. How much this compensates for its deficits will be in the eye of the individual viewer.

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