In my ongoing Netflix adventures, I end up watching a lot of obscure movies and TV shows that no one knows about. Sometimes they’re great, and sometimes they miss the mark. If I’m lucky, I might discover an interesting failure — where something isn’t good, but I get enormous enjoyment out of picking it apart and imagining how it could be better. This weekend, I decided to check out the 2015 horror film Some Kind of Hate because a friend asked me to. I was told it went bad somewhere, but it was hard to pinpoint exactly what its specific issues were. It was just wrong, a solid 82 minutes of wrongness that my friend could not explain or understand, and they really, really wanted me to suffer with them. “Color me intrigued,” said I, and spent the afternoon with a ghostly vengeance flick that was – indeed – so totally wrong. Spoilers ensue below.
The premise of Some Kind of Hate goes like this: after a violent altercation with a bully, high school student Lincoln is sent to an isolated reform camp in the middle of nowhere. He meets a few new friends, including a cheerful fellow outsider/love interest named Kaitlin, but continues to be a victim of harassment by meaner kids — until the ghost of a former camper named Moira is brought to life by Lincoln’s anger and delivers bloody retribution on his tormentors. Naturally, her own rages spin completely out of control, and Lincoln and Kaitlin are forced to stop her when she goes too far.
First, we’ll start with the good: this is a visually beautiful movie, with an eye for scenery and atmospherics. You get a sense of slow, creeping dread long before anyone dies, and when they do, the violence is precisely delivered instead of being an over-the-top gorefest. This is a film that understands mood and tension.
Unfortunately, it does not have the same eye for characters or storytelling. Here’s the problem: Lincoln, the main player, the protagonist who hypothetically drives everything, the guy whose character development is intended to be the heart of the narrative, is functionally unnecessary. I don’t believe anything that Some Kind of Hate wants me to think about him. He is clearly intended to be a volatile kid constantly on the verge of hurting others, who then grows out of his destructive impulses after witnessing Moira go too far – a pivotal scene centers on Lincoln telling her “I don’t need you anymore” – but that journey is totally hollow, because nothing about him is actually that unstable or cruel. The supposed flaws that he has to overcome aren’t even there in the first place. Lincoln is involved in two separate beatdowns, but they’re both self-defense situations, and while he has anger issues, they’re honestly normal for a person in his position. He’s been abused and neglected by people his entire life! Of course he’s angry! But, while this could lead to him becoming a dangerous person, he’s really not depicted as one. Lincoln is sincerely well-behaved and self-conscious about how he comes off to others. He only ever lashes out when someone else is assaulting him. He’s as unsettled and uncomfortable as anyone when Moira starts killing people. Him saying “I don’t need you anymore” rings utterly false as a personal revelation when he never seemed to appreciate her actions in the first place. Oh, sure, he talks about wishing bullies would get what they deserve and fantasizing about crushing skulls while listening to death metal, but his actions and responses to others lack any genuine moral ambiguity or temptation to do evil.
The disappointment only doubles when you consider Kaitlin, who would have actually meant something as a heroine. She’s the one with the sincere desire for vengeance that Lincoln lacks. She makes jokes about the murders. While Lincoln is only ever freaked out by Moira’s presence, Kaitlin initially adores her. Her growth towards becoming Moira’s enemy has true resonance, because she’s the one who changes as a person and transforms her initial perspective. In general, she’s just more nuanced — we find out that Kaitlin used to be one of the bullies she hates so much, and is now incredibly vindictive towards them out of guilt regarding her past actions. The strongest scene in Some Kind of Hate is one where Kaitlin voluntarily lets Moira cut into her as self-punishment. The second strongest is the moment where Kaitlin becomes horrified when Moira tortures an innocent camper along with her abusers, but still offers to expose the sordid truth of Moira’s murder by the camp counselors if no one else gets hurt. She’s willing to compromise, until Moira rejects even that and Kaitlin abandons their misguided sense of justice to take her down. This would have been a great story if Kaitlin’s evolution hadn’t taken place over five minutes, especially when compared to the hour-plus of attention devoted to Lincoln waffling at length.
There are seeds of a solid, compelling film inside Some Kind of Hate, but they’re viciously ignored in favor of a dead-weight hero who contributes very little. If the minds behind it all wanted to tell a story about someone overcoming their sadistic inner darkness and their belief in merciless retribution, why underuse the character who honestly has those traits and zero in on the one who radiates discomfort with that extremism from beginning to end? That’s the wrongness of Some Kind of Hate — it doesn’t commit, and consequentially comes off as entirely too weak. I mourn what could have been. That’s an hour and a half that could have gone to watching Carrie.