While Hollywood is pushing revitalized adaptations of old-school slashers like Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, director Sonny Mallhi’s Hurt brings fresh originality to the genre. The film opens up with a creepy and eerie sequence featuring a girl being lured into imprisonment, then hinting at her brutal killing at the hands of a masked serial killer. Though it seems that co-writers Solomon Grady and Mallhi are crafting an amalgamation of classic horror titles, the film instantly shrugs off the sequence as something our protagonist is watching on television. The way the filmmakers pull the rug out from under us so early on indicates that their horror-mystery is a genre experiment, supported by an abnormal tone, that doesn’t fit the definition of slasher or straight horror.
In the film, Rose (Emily Van Raay) is surprised by her husband’s return from duty. Unfortunately, her husband, Tommy (Andrew Creer), shows severe signs of PTSD, which causes a severe strain on the relationship. But, in an effort to get back to baseline and celebrate Halloween, the couple decides to visit a local horror hayride. The story takes a darker turn as events lead to the couple’s separation.
“…an effort to get back to baseline and celebrate Halloween, the couple decides to visit a local horror hayride.”
Mallhi started as a producer on films like The Roommate and House at the End of the Street, both of which possess a certain degree of uncanniness. He then ventured into directing with Anguish and Family Blood, which dealt with two distinct variants of horror. With Hurt, the filmmaker has gone full experimental, adamant about creating something different within the slasher genre as opposed to films that have bloodshed and brutal murder at their core.
From the beginning, Mallhi hints at elements of neo-noir. An isolated group of people who get caught up in a killing spree during camping sets the eerie atmosphere, and the director then ties the scares to the emotional core of the characters. The film tries to establish a connection between the viewers and the characters through a very detailed introduction. We feel for Rose and her rift with her husband while empathizing with Tommy’s fierce battle with PTSD. A clever sequence involving a phone call between Rose and her sister also delves into her relationship with her family, further hinting towards her distant personal life.
"…a brave revitalization of slasher films..."