In today’s world it seems that hate crimes seem to be more prevalent than ever before.  No matter your political affiliation, there is no denying that more and more people are being murdered because of something as simple as skin color, religious affiliation, gender identity or sexual preference.

Hate Crime is a film that pulls directly from these daily news stories of Violence and evil but, instead of focusing on the crime itself, this film explores the aftermath of such an event and how it affects those left behind, especially when the circumstances are not exactly what everyone believes.

The Story

Image courtesy of TriCoast Entertainment

Raymond Brown (Jordan Salloum), faces the death penalty after killing a young gay man Kevin DeMarco (Chasen Schnieder).   The movie follows the families of both young men as they each deal with the pain and revelations that come from a single act of violence.  What on the surface looks like a hate crime turns out to be much more complicated than just an act of violence, and we soon find that the roots dig deeper than even those involved know.

While the setting is the after the murder of a young man, the overlying theme is a simple one, Hate begets Hate.   All too often in our society we are faced with trying to live up to the examples presented by the adults in our lives specifically our parents.  Unfortunately, many times, those examples are poor ones that provide people with a narrow outlook of the world around them.  This narrow view can cause a deep set fear and hatred which, all too often, can manifest itself in the form of violence.  The journey presented shows the importance of breaking that cycle before something terrible happens.

The film itself is a well paced journey that focuses on raw emotion allowing the actors to explore their struggles in the wake of the violence that has broken them all.  The cast is primarily made up of the two families, Raymond’s (played by Kevin Bernhardt and Amy Redford) and Kevin’s (played by John Schnieder and Laura Cayouette).

Kevin Bernhardt_Amy Redford better times
Image courtesy of TriCoast Entertainment

The film primarily dives into Raymond’s family subtly exploring why their son would kill someone that he cared for. While Jordan Salloum does a great job in his limited role,  It is through the actions and dialogue of his parents that we really get the scope of what caused such a tragic crime.  Both Bernhardt and Redford really show that they have what it takes to hammer home the emotional turmoil they are going through as they realize that this event is as much their fault as it is their son’s.

John Scneider_Laura Cayouette drive into prison
Image courtesy of TriCoast Entertainment

I have to admit I was dissapointed in the lack of focus that Kevin’s family received.  While they are instrumental in the overall plot, they seemed to be relegated to nothing more than key story beats allowing Raymond’s family a chance to discover the truth about themselves and their son.   While the DeMarco’s are not the focus, Both John Schneider and Laura Cayouette do a great job with what they are given and I only wish it could have been more.

The Bottom Line

Image courtesy of TriCoast Entertainment

Hate Crime is a somber film as well it should be.  It is not a ‘feel good movie’ or one that provides a happy ending.  It is not a redemption story nor is it a tale of making amends,  instead it simply shows that there is a glimmer hope even when that hope is realized in the wake of a terrible tragedy.  The message of this film is clear, the only way to stop violence and hate is in education and acceptance.  Making sure that those around you understand that you will love them for who they are and will never judge them no matter the circumstances.  It is a hard thing to do for some, but it is all the more important in this day and age.

This is a solid film, but be warned, it will have you thinking about what message you are giving in your words and actions. It is a deeply introspective film that, For some, will provide a bitter pill to swallow. Director Steven Estab has something unique here and, while his pacing is a little off at times, it is clear that he has the ability to really pull terrific performances out of his actors.  I hope we get to see more from him in the future.

TriCoast Entertainment will release ‘Hate Crime’ onto platforms  9/24: (Amazon, InDemand, DIRECTV, FlixFling, FANDANGO, Vudu, AT&T, and Sling/Dish)

Late To The Game 9/9/2019

If you would like to read more reviews please check out the rest of the Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday.

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