Hate Crime: A Modern Day Video Nasty!
**WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SOME IMAGES THAT MAY UPSET THE CENSORS, DO NOT BAN ME!**
Three years ago I was given the opportunity to review a low-budget found footage/home invasion/crime movie from a young, upcoming genre director; James Cullen Bressack. Fast forward to 2015 and news broke out a couple of days ago that our ‘trusty’ board of classification over here in the UK, the BBFC had refused to classify the movie subsequently making it the fourth banned film in the country in recent years joining The Bunny Game, Grotesque and The Human Centipede 2 (which eventually was released with cuts). The film is Hate Crime, a raw and brutal depiction of the suffering of a Jewish family terrorized by neo-nazi thugs. Along with Funny Games, Hate Crime is a home invasion film that deliberately pushes the boundaries to shake up its viewers, its an exercise in pure terror which should be the intention when making this kind of horror film. When I watched the film back in 2012, I was shocked, sickened, thought-provoked and somewhat upset, not because of the brutal imagery that plays out on screen but because the film served as a reminder that even when the credits roll, incidents just like this happen in real life and that is a harrowing thought to take away with you. Hate Crime impressed me in several ways, its found footage angle was done well, and unlike many other films that use this method it actually served a purpose. It also takes place in real time making the piece highly effective with a sense of high octane realism at play.
Bressack recently spoke out about the film’s banning saying he found it”unbelievable that a film that shows little to no on screen violence and no nudity was actually banned” and that “it just shows the power of what is implied and people’s imagination and is a testament to the fact that the same crimes that happen in the world are truly horrifying.” This was actually something I applauded; Bressack’s technique of pulling the camera away from the moments of violence and sexual abuse made the scenes even more traumatic and powerful.
After viewing the film I had my suspicions that it was inevitably going to generate controversy outside of the horror community, the film’s content is horrible but its meant to be, its a depiction of something nasty that does go on in real life which is understandably hard to stomach. Sadly racism of this degree is out there. There is also the argument of film being an escapism therefore is a film as brutal as this necessary when we are reminded of despicable incidents like this happening in the news all the time. Films about true life whether autobiographical or not are constantly being made so this should be no different. It goes that little bit further than the glossy Hollywood home invasion movies but you don’t see The Strangers, You’re Next or The Purge not seeing the light of day with essentially the same concept and similar themes!
The BBFC have justified their reasons behind rejecting Hate Crime for classification, which can be read here. When interviewing Bressack back in 2012 ahead of its UK premiere at Grimm Up North Horror Festival I asked if he was worried about the BBFC’s reaction to which he said: “We hope we’re not banned. Despite its extreme brutality, much of Hate Crime’s violence takes place off screen. Plus, its message is strong and important. Particularly in Europe where anti-Semitism is growing. We hope everyone who wants to see it gets to.”
I personally stand by the belief that anyone over the age of 18 should be able to watch whatever they like, its not harming anybody.There is no reason why this film shouldn’t be available within the public domain. The disheartening factor is it seems that independent films are judged much more harshly than mainstream movies, it doesn’t help encourage upcoming indie filmmakers to be brave with their art. The case of Hate Crime strongly echoes the debate over Axelle Carolyn’s supernatural drama Soulmate that was threatened with an outright ban if cuts weren’t made to a scene depicting a suicide attempt to prevent ‘imitable behaviour’; despite the scene being completely vital to the film’s story and character development.
Its despicable and contradictory particularly when we have a film that blatantly conveys child suicide (The Woman in Black) slapped with a harmless 12A certificate, meaning any child under 12 is ok to see it when accompanied by an adult and a film that includes a scene of a baby being raped (A Serbian Film) despite being passed with cuts, the edits made makes it ten times worse! A Serbian Film is actually now available on youtube in full. The controversial baby rape scene has been justified as acting as a ‘metaphor’ for life in Serbia, so how is Hate Crime any different in what it depicts as a reflection of anti-Semitism in society, a universal threat.
It begs the question, who is really qualified to be censoring films. Films are subjective, we are all capable of making our own decisions on what we subject ourselves to. There are scenes of rape, violence and graphic murder in many genre films, so why is Hate Crime being singled out here, because its an easy target being a low budget indie film? It goes to show that the BBFC haven’t got their arse out of the 80s!
On that note, please keep supporting independent film.
Hayley Alice Roberts.